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liiiM Hale Williams 


One of the great unsung Negroes of Amer- 
ican history is Dr. Daniel Hale Williams. 
Why have so few people heard of him? 

In 1893 Dr. Williams performed the world's 
first successful heart operation. 
Why iy this not a well-known fact? 

These are the facts a^ r l questions that stim- 
ulated Helen Buckler to spend 10 years in 
States, with huncLcus of people and 
government archives, documents, and rec- 
ords in order to unearth the life story of 
America's first Negro surgeon and the facts 
and circumstances of his history-making 

The search led from question to question. 
Where did he acquire the knowledge and 
skill for this operation only 30 years after 
emancipation? What happened to him after 
he achieved this medical breakthrough? 
What did he do to help the cause of his own 
race? Why did some Negroes worship him 
and some hate and fear him? Why was he 
called "disloyal" and was he really? Since 
he looked white, why didn't he "go white"? 

From the answers emerge not only the fas- 
cinating portrait of a complex and gifted 
man, but a revealing picture of Negro life 
and history from 1856-1931. Daniel Hale 
Williams is a glowing tribute to a great man 
which reads with the power and drama of 

92 W7223b2 $6*95 


Buckler. Helen 

Daniel Hale Williams, Negro 
ns Pitman Pub * Corp? 

Daniel Hale Williams 

Daniel Hale Williams, M.D., M.S., LL.D., F.A.C.S. 



Negro Surgeon 

B Y 


Pitman Publishing Corporation 


Copyright <g) 1954, 1968 by Helen Buckler 

Originally published as 
Doctor Dan: Pioneer in American Surgery 


Library of Congress No. 54-6881 

Mamtfactured in the United States of America 


THE AUTHOR wishes to thank the following for permission to 
reprint certain material: Harvard University Press for lines 
from "Red Iron Ore" from Ballads and Songs of the Shantyboy, 
collected and edited by Franz Fickaby. Copyright 1926, 1954. 
Portia Washington Pittman for quotations from the letters of 
her father, Booker T. Washington. 

to the memory of 


who taught me the meaning 
of brotherhood 

The only way you can succeed is to override 
the obstacles in your way. By the power that 
is within you, do what you hope to do. 

Frederick Douglass to Daniel Hale Williams y 

Ackno wledgments 

PROPER thanks can be but imperfectly voiced here to the many 
persons who contributed to the making of this book. The late 
Dr. Louis T. Wright suggested the matter. A list of those who 
submitted, often at inconvenience to themselves, to interviews and 
the patient answering of correspondence is found on page 362. 
Included there are members of the Williams and Price families 
who were more than generous with letters, mementos, and photo- 
graphs. I am grateful even to those two or three relatives who re- 
fused me the door; their implacability made clear what Daniel 
Hale Williams had suffered. 

I wish to express appreciation for the unfailing courtesy and 
care with which assistance was given by officers and staffs of the 
Hall of Records, Annapolis; the National Archives; the American 
Medical Association; the American College of Surgeons; the Janes- 
ville, Wisconsin, Gazette; Provident Hospital, Chicago; the li- 
braries of the New York Academy of Medicine, Northwestern 
University Medical School, Fisk University, Franklin and Mar- 
shall College, Atlanta University, and Howard University; the 
Library of Congress; the public libraries of New York City, 
Chicago, the State of Pennsylvania, the State of Illinois, of Janes- 
ville, Wisconsin, and of Rockf ord, Illinois; the registrars of North- 
western University Medical School, Howard University, Uni- 
versity of Wisconsin, Milton College, Wilberforce University, 

viii Daniel Hale Williams 

and Meharry Medical College; the Courthouse officials of Anne 
Arundel County, Maryland, of Blair, Cambria, Dauphin, Lan- 
caster, Mifflin and York Counties in Pennsylvania, and of Cook 
County in Illinois; the Historical Societies of Maryland, Pennsyl- 
vania, Wisconsin, New York and Chicago, as well as of Mifflin, 
Blair, Dauphin, Lancaster and York Counties in Pennsylvania, and 
the Antiquarian Society of Worcester, Massachusetts. Special 
mention should be made of the cheerful assistance outside of regu- 
lar hours of Phil Waters, Librarian of the Johnstown, Pennsyl- 
vania, Tribune, and of Ella Snowberger and Floyd Hoenstine of 
the Blair County Historical Society. 

From his invalid quarters the late Dr. Carl Glennis Roberts en- 
couraged and assisted the research for five years. Dr. Ulysses 
Grant Dailey took time out of a busy life to review the manuscript 
in its medical and surgical aspects, as did Dr. Roberts. Various 
friends and colleagues contributed their criticisms as the manu- 
script progressed. Marquis James read an early draft and made 
useful suggestions. For proposals as to the final form of the book 
and their sympathetic yet uncompromising editorial pencils, I am 
indebted to Jeannette and Dudley Cloud. And finally to my sister, 
Mrs. Lyman Ball Johnson, I owe thanks for the drudgery of 

The hospitality of Davis House, interracial hostel of the Re- 
ligious Society of Friends, in Washington, made possible the pro- 
longed research needed in the capital and nearby. And to Pendle 
Hill, that rare Quaker community of work and worship, study 
and creation, retreat and fellowship, I owe the year's shelter, 
spiritual and physical, that enabled me to do the final writing. 

Any errors, as 'well as matters of judgment and opinion upon 
the controversial material herein presented, are, of course, my 

H. B. 


TEN years ago when I was working on a magazine article, I came 
across the statement that the first man in the world to operate 
successfully on the human heart was an American Negro, Daniel 
Hale Williams. Dr. Williams performed this feat in 1893, said my 
information, only thirty years after Emancipation. 

Surprised, and a good deal interested, I soon began the long 
search that finally revealed the story told in these pages. That 
search led me through fourteen states, and involved interviews 
with some two hundred and thirty individuals, and correspond- 
ence, often prolonged, with fifty more. I talked with doctors, 
both black and white, many of whom Dr. Williams had trained, 
to nurses who owed their profession to him, to patients whose 
lives he had saved, to a man whose heart still beat vigorously be- 
cause forty-five years previously Dr. Dan had "sewed it up." 

I followed the trail to cellars and attics, to old courthouses and 
government archives, to yellowed newspapers, some of them mud- 
died by flood waters, to creased, brittle letters, to cracked photo- 
graphs, tintypes, ambrotypes, to carefully folded away marriage 
records all the fascinating memorabilia that lure the biographer. 
I found an almost unbelievable story. 

Daniel Hale Williams was a great American surgeon, accorded 
top rank by his contemporary colleagues, white as well as black. 
After his first heart operation in 1893 in Chicago, he went on to 

x Daniel Hale Williams 

perform other history-making operations. He was a charter mem- 
ber of the American College of Surgeons and one of the founders 
and first vice president of the Negro National Medical Associa- 
tion. He founded Provident Hospital in Chicago, the first in- 
terracial hospital in the United States and progenitor of a hundred 
such institutions today. He introduced the training of colored 
nurses and internes and was appointed by President Cleveland 
head of Freedmen's Hospital in Washington. He became nation- 
ally and internationally known. Why he has slipped into oblivion 
is the story of these pages. 

Dr. Dan was a handsome man, fair-skinned with red hair, and he 
could have passed for white as some of his relatives and forebears 
had. But he called himself a Negro and all his life he worked for 
the advancement of the Negro race. His life was a stormy one, 
filled with controversy, with struggle and remarkable achieve- 
ment. His story is a heartening chapter in the development of 
American surgery and throws new light on the history of the 
Negro in this country. 

On my search I encountered and penetrated the "black velvet 
curtain" for the first time in my segregated white life. I visited 
Negro campuses and Negro summer resorts. Through a thin sum- 
mer-hotel partition I listened to a long evening bull session of 
colored young people, in which one lone student tried passion- 
ately, but without much success, to convince a roomful of skep- 
tics that not all white people are insincere. "We mustn't condemn 
a whole race," she cried, "for the sins of the majority. I myself 
know a very nice white woman and I'm sure she's all right!" 

I was assured by a seventy-year-old colored gentlewoman that 
she had no race prejudice and she would continue to attend her 
class reunions at the white college where she had been graduated 
and continue to speak to white audiences when asked even though 
her friends condemned her for it. 

It was good for me to hear these things, to feel the shoe on the 
unaccustomed foot, though sometimes a very kind person would 
inadvertently administer a very sharp stab. An elderly colored 
gentleman patted my hand as I left him after a long interview 


and said: "My dear, you haven't a single colored characteristic 
left. You could go anywhere!" I went from his door with aching 
heart, aching because of his revelation of what he had suffered, 
aching because he assumed that only one with colored blood 
would have interest enough to ask about Dr. Williams. 

After some time in a Negro community, I being the only white 
person there, I met a woman one day who said, "Oh, so you're a 
writer. I thought when I noticed you staying here that you must 
be either a writer or a social worker." This implication that only 
a professional, not a personal, interest could bring a white person 
among colored was another sad commentary on the state of affairs 
in this country. 

How little we peoples know each other and how much enjoy- 
ment we miss! There are qualities of life in the Negro ghetto 
that few whites have dreamed of. I have stepped off miserable 
streets into houses of wealth and taste, into homes whose old wal- 
nut and mahogany, china and crystal came from generations back, 
whose books and paintings invited acquaintance. I remember a 
reception room, a jewel of a room, exquisite in its restraint. It 
was a small room, circular in shape; under my feet, a rare carpet 
from old China; for my waiting a carved chair of some dark 
wood; to feast my eyes, a lucent marble bust of a woman, a 
Donatello-like woman, on a slim Florentine column. 

I remember an old lady, fragile as Dresden, with snowy hair 
and bright blue eyes, in whose veins flowed, so I had been told, 
some of the "best" blood America had ever known, but who re- 
fused to tell her nieces the story and hoped the painful past might 
be forgotten when she died. I remember another old lady, one of 
Oberlin's first graduates, who spoke seven languages fluently. 

There were so many fascinating trails, but I was concerned 
with only one Dr. Dan's. For the most part, as I pursued this 
elusive fact, then that, I was received hospitably on my quest. 
People were ungrudging of their time and patient in their atten- 
tion beyond anything I had a right to expect. But once I sat up 
all night on a local train to reach a distant town in Ohio and 
then was denied an interview. "He wanted to be white," said 

xii Daniel Hale Williams 

Dr. Dan's cousin through the merest crack in her door. "He 
wanted to be white, then let him be it." No persuasion availed. 
Though Dr. Dan had been dead a dozen years, this woman's 
hatred of one she believed to be a traitor was still a live thing. 
Her face worked with emotion, her hand trembled, as she closed 
her door firmly against me. 

At the opposite extreme from this experience, a colored man 
risked his life and received me a few days after he had suffered a 
severe coronary occlusion. An oxygen tank stood ready by his 
pillow. But Dr. Carl Roberts was determined to assist, if he could, 
in restoring this great and forgotten surgeon to what he believed 
was his rightful place in history. 

So controversial a figure was the hero of this story, I soon 
found, that I had always to weigh any evidence by the partisan- 
ship, pro as well as con, of the witness. Then, too, I was of an alien 
race and I had always to discount what was told me by this un- 
happy fact. The truth was what I wanted, but it was difficult to 
come by. All the more so since the curse hurled at this man by 
his enemy had proved only too effective. "I'll punish him worse 
than God ever will," his opponent had cried. "I'll see he's for- 
gotten before he's ever dead." The means used to bring this male- 
diction to eventuality, the obscuring of facts by the passage of 
time, the death of so many who had been party to the drama all 
made discovery of the true tale a slow and sometimes discouraging 

The surprises in the story were many. It turned out to bear lit- 
tle resemblance to the usual Negro story. There are no slave 
cabins, no cotton fields, no city slums, no lynchings only the 
slow crucifixion of the spirit. And who knows of the Negro who 
was "always free"? Yet he existed in numbers both North and 
South from earliest times propertied, cultured, of global out- 
look. Who knows of the many white women who chose to marry 
darker husbands and lived happily ever after? But more especially, 
who knows the Negro not as a type but as an individual, not as 
victim, or as conqueror, but as an infinitely varied, infinitely in- 
teresting mixture of strength and weakness, even as you and I? 


And who knows how bitter Is the struggle, not between Negro 
and white, but between Negro and Negro, inside the segregation 
camp of racial discrimination? 

Each discovery brought another question. If Daniel Hale Wil- 
liams looked white, and he did, then why did he feel like a Negro? 
And what drives were in him that would not let him rest on his 
own hard-won success, but made him try to carry his "race" for- 
ward with him? And why, in the end, after he had become an 
inspiration to colored people everywhere, after he had made the 
greatest contribution of his day to the progress of the Negro 
people, why was he cursed for disloyalty, driven into obscurity, 
forced out of colored medicine, out of the hospital he founded 
and spent twenty years building? And then, after this treatment 
and after another twenty years on the staff of an important white 
hospital, after having been a charter member of the American Col- 
lege of Surgeons, how explain that his heart was still with Ne- 
groes? Why did he, despite everything, send his library to a 
Negro hospital and make a will giving the bulk of his money to 
two Negro medical schools and the National Association for the 
Advancement of Colored People? 

My search for fact in the end became a search for motivation. 
And motives of course are always open to question. No one of us 
can ever know another entirely. This is the story as it has seemed 
to me. 

In the nine years I have lived with this story I feel I have come 
to know few persons as well as I now know Dr. Dan his aspira- 
tions, his disappointments, and his success this sensitive, almost 
shrinking human being, left so ill equipped by fortune for the 
rough-and-tumble of the life that was his, and yet a human being 
who could summon up a magnificent courage, a courage far be- 
yond the modicum required by thicker-skinned individuals. 

I might have met Dr. Dan face to face in 1920-1921, for I was 
then a patient for some months in St. Luke's Hospital and he was 
still active on the staff. I did watch operations, for my malady 
was chronic rather than acute and my surgeon sought to save me 
from boredom by sometimes allowing me to follow him about 

xiv Daniel Hale Willicwns 

at his work. I might have -watched instead some of Dr. Dan's 
operations, some of those here described from his own notes. But 
Fate ruled otherwise. Perhaps it is as well. I was young then, and 
inexperienced. Perhaps I should have been put off by the fagade 
he had built between himself and the -world. Perhaps I know Dr. 
Dan better now than if I had met him in the halls of St. Luke's 
years ago. 

Pendle Hill 

Wallingford, Pennsylvania 
June 1953 

Foreword to the Second Edition 

TIME has never passed more swiftly than in the fifteen years 
since this volume first appeared. Scarcely a phase of life, at home 
or abroad, has not known metamorphosis. Heart operations to 
which Daniel Hale Williams dared open the door seventy-five 
years ago have become actual heart transplants, though still occa- 
sioning outcries against this disrespect for "the seat of the soule." 

The black community to which he gave his loyalty, love, and 
leadership has changed too. The goal is not yet reached; the 
struggle goes on. But the community has changed. It has changed 
its vocabulary. It no longer calls itself colored, but black. As 
Doctor Dan did at Camp Funston, it speaks out more. It no longer 
bows to the dictates or waits upon the wishes of one political 

In vain Dr. Williams tried to persuade Booker Washington to 
allow him to open a surgical clinic at Tuskegee where he could 
save black lives and teach black surgeons. "There is nothing," 
he assured Washington, "that our people cannot do once given 
the chance. They make the best soldiers; they could make the 
best surgeons too." Washington turned him down and the black 
South, the whole country, was the loser. 

Today we can only read about what might have been and hope 

xvi Daniel Hale Williams 

that the inspiration from this brave life may help the black men 
and women, the black boys and girls, of the urban ghetto and 
the forgotten rural slum "override the obstacles." As Frederick 
Douglass urged Doctor Dan, "By the power that is within you, 
do what you hope to do." 


Boentm Hill 
Brooklyn, Ne<w York 
June, 1968 


Acknowledgments vii 

Foreword ix 

Foreword to the Second Edition xv 

i The Wandering Barber Finds a Home 3 

ii A Medical Apprentice in 1878 15 

in Dan Goes to Medical School 28 

iv The Barber Becomes a Doctor 40 

v Operating in a Dining Room 50 

vi First Interracial Hospital, 1^91 66 

vii "Sewed Up His Heart! 7 ' 85 

via A National Task 97 

ix "Snatched from the Womb" 1 1 8 

x Dr. Dan's Job in Jeopardy 1 3 1 

xi Alice Johnson 146 

xii Betrayal 159 

xni Destroying Myths 173 

Daniel Hale Williams 

xiv Moses to Negro Medicine 191 

xv History-Making Operations 207 

xvi Alice Tries to Be a Good Wife 223 

xvii Break with Booker T. Washington 231 

xviii The Record Made Straight 259 

Genealogical Chan of the Williams and Price Families 276 

Notes and Sources 279 

Notes by Chapters 287 

Persons Consulted 363 

Publications of Daniel Hale Williams 366 

Index 369 


Daniel Hale Williams, M.D., M.S., LL.D., F.A.C.S. Frontispiece 

Daniel Williams, Jr., father of Daniel Hale Williams 6 

Sarah Price Williams, mother of Daniel Hale Williams 6 

Young Dan at about age 6 7 

Dan at age 14 30 

Charles Henry (Harry) and Ellen Byron Anderson 30 

Daniel Williams as a medical student in 1880 31 

Dan Williams, apprentice to Dr. Palmer 104 

Young Doctor Dan with two companions 104 
Dr. Daniel Hale Williams, Chief Surgeon, Freedmen's 

Hospital, 1 894- 1898 1 05 

Alice D. Johnson as a young girl about 1875 146 

Dr. Daniel Hale Williams, 1883 146 

Alice Johnson as a teacher at Mott School about 1890 147 

Daniel Hale Williams 



The Wandering Barber Finds a Home 

ON freezing nights in the winter of 1877 a young man might be 
seen struggling down an unlighted side street, buffeting the wind 
and often a blinding snow, in the little Wisconsin town of Janes- 
ville. To any passer-by his battle with the fury hurled from the 
Great Lakes must have seemed a losing one for a person of his 
thin frame thin-seeming despite enveloping coat, thick scarf, 
and cap and earlaps of fur. Frequently he carried a covered bass 
viol in mittened hands, weaving the unwieldy instrument about 
to keep it safe as he slipped and slid on the plank sidewalk. 

On such a night, undoubtedly his one thought was to get home 
quickly. At this time Daniel Hale Williams had dreams of better- 
ing himself, but no well-defined plans for his future. He spent 
his days working several hours as a barber in Charles Henry An- 
derson's Tonsorial Parlor and Bathing Rooms and the rest of the 
time attending classes at the Janesville Classical Academy. Half 
his evenings he spent practicing or playing with Anderson's pop- 
ular string band. His studying he squeezed in where he could. 

It was a full schedule, but it seemed normal enough to Dan. 
Every man in Janesville hustled from morning to night, and every 
woman too. There was so much to be done in an expanding 
country trying still to make up for the long stagnation and drain 
of the War Between the States. The urge was in everyone to be 
busy, never let up, and Dan felt the urge with the rest. 

4 Daniel Hale Williams 

Dan boarded at the Anderson home. Harry Anderson, more a 
friend than an employer, had several years ago invited his new 
assistant to move in with him and his family in the comfortable 
two-story white frame house on Glen Street. There Dan, a lonely 
lad, adrift in a strange town, had found a warm welcome. Harry's 
wife Ellen mothered him, as she mothered her stepson George and 
her own children the pretty, talented Traviata, usually called 
Vytie (Dan said 'Viata), frail Tessie and little Alfie who was 
crippled, and finally the new baby, Daniel Herbert, named for 
Dan but called Bertie. 

Ellen Anderson was a generous, loving woman, well content 
with her life in this bustling, growing Western town. Perhaps 
her family back in County Cork had found it strange when she 
wrote some eighteen years ago that she was marrying a mulatto 
in the New World. But who else could be so fine, so kind, so 
openhanded as Charles Henry Anderson? That he was a widower 
with a little brown boy to bring up had appealed to her warm 
sympathies and she had never regretted her choice. She was 
proud of her olive-skinned children. She was proud, too, of 
George, her stepson, twenty-two now, darker-skinned than her 
husband and with rounded African features and crinkly hair. 

And she was proud of Dan, eager, red-haired, quick as a young 
pacer and as graceful. Dan had needed her care and affection as 
much as the others. His pale handsome face held contradictions. 
There was intelligence in the fine forehead and shapely nose and 
strength in the square-cut jaw and firm chin. But a dimple gave 
that chin a womanish look and the thin, curving mouth was too 
sensitive, the dark brown eyes too melancholy to promise much 
happiness for their owner. No one would have guessed that the 
pale, red-haired Dan had African blood in his veins, or Indian 
blood. But Dan proudly claimed both. 

Daniel Hale Williams had been born in Hollidaysburg, Penn- 
sylvania, on January 18, 1856. He was the fifth child of Daniel 
Williams, Jr., and Sarah Price Williams. His father was descended 
from early pious German folk who had settled, long before the 


Revolution, in the territory that became York County, and 
had intermarried with the peace-loving Shawnee and Delaware 
Indians. Their descendants had intermarried sometimes with 
Negro and sometimes with Welsh, Scotch and Irish families until 
Dan's father showed, except for some crinkle in his hair, the 
contours of his high cheekbones, and his erect dignified bearing, 
but little physical indication of the racial mixture that was his. 

The Williamses were a proud, independent, God-fearing clan. 
Farmers, small businessmen, barbers, all owned property and many 
preached the word of God on Sunday. A few had disappeared 
back into the white race out of which their forebears came. These 
were the exceptions that only made more invincible the passion- 
ate loyalty of the free Williamses to the interests and welfare 
of their enslaved African brothers. They and others of like blood 
and like views had by their own unflagging zeal encouraged Ben- 
jamin Lundy, William Lloyd Garrison and the rest of the white 
Abolitionists to greater and greater effort. The Williamses and 
their friends held state and national conventions, made speeches, 
published pamphlets, worked on committees, traveled back and 
forth, got protests into the white newspapers. Each generation of 
sons and daughters received the imprint of this intrepid devotion. 

Though Dan's grandfather had married a white woman, Dan's 
father married a girl darker than himself, a girl of the same three 
racial strains as his own. When Sarah Price, a fifteen-year-old 
bride, tied her bonnet over her straight black Indian tresses, 
placed her hand trustfully in that of her tall twenty-three-year- 
old husband and turned her face westward to the wild Alle- 
ghenies, she left behind on Church Circle in Annapolis a com- 
fortable, pleasant home. The Prices, like the Williamses, were a 
free family, a family that could, even in the South, enter into 
wedlock. It made all the difference. Sarah's grandfather Smith 
Price had owned a small estate called Greenhill outside the town 
gates and a shop and house in the city. Her father, the Reverend 
Henry Price, canny in real estate matters, educated, fearless, was 
respected by whites as well as by colored. 

Dan's father prospered in Hollidaysburg, the boom town at 

6 Daniel Hale Williams 

the head of the Pennsylvania State Canal. He bought property in 
town and land rich in iron ore on Brush Mountain. After Dan, 
two more children were born, to swell the number to seven. 
When Dan was eleven and the Civil War was over, the family 
at last could go to visit his mother's ancestral home in Annapolis. 
While they were there, his father fell victim to quick consump- 
tion and died. Undoubtedly his arduous traveling and speaking 
for the Equal Rights League had contributed to his early death. 

For a time Sarah stayed on with her widowed mother. But she 
was restless and uncertain. Her elder son Price, already a grown 
man of twenty, went off on his own up North, teaching school 
and studying law. Sarah wanted to go back West. With reckless 
disregard for her purse, she placed two girls in an expensive con- 
vent school, left the youngest with her mother, and, with Annie 
and Sally, now in their late teens, she set off for Rockford, 
Illinois. There the three of them would live with some Williams 
cousins and learn the hair goods trade. Dan she took out of school 
and apprenticed to a shoemaker in Baltimore. 

Poor young Dan, bereft so suddenly of all that had made his 
childhood happy, asked to sit still all day, pushing a needle through 
ill-smelling hides, must have felt miserable. Often he must have 
asked himself why his mother had abandoned him. One day when 
he could stand his fate no longer, he bundled up his clothes, went 
to a railroad man who had known his father and asked for a pass 
to go West. 

When twelve-year-old Dan suddenly appeared in Rockford, 
his mother was startled. But she only laughed her easy laugh, 
Dan years later told his niece, and said that with all that spunk 
Dan could take care of himself. Soon her restless spirit would 
drive her back East again. She took her eldest daughter with 
her, but again left Dan behind, this time with his sister Sally 
and his cousins. Dan made his own way, working sometimes in 
barbershops, sometimes on the lake boats at whatever he could 

But the Rock River valley drew him. At seventeen he was 
running his own small barbershop in the little village of Edgerton, 


Wisconsin, but soon he moved to the larger Janesville, a few miles 
away. His sister Sally was with him. Sally at once found a job 
in the hair goods trade, making the popular Saratoga frizzes, 
chignons and waterfalls, and hair jewelry too. Dan went to Harry 
Anderson and asked for work in his Tonsorial Parlor and Bathing 
Rooms. Anderson's six-chair establishment was the biggest and 
best in town, patronized by the best people, and offered a plumb- 
ingless population warm baths at all hours, as well as fashionable 
trimming of beards and mustaches, haircuts, and shaves for the 
few smooth-faced men who wanted them. 

Dan was well-mannered, neat and clean, and he was nimble 
with scissors and blade. Anderson could use him. Barbers were a 
nomad lot and Anderson had to exercise some ingenuity to keep 
enough help. Good board was a lure and he had taken Dan to the 
house on Glen Street to board, and with him his sister Sally. 

More than anything else Dan wanted an education. Although 
he had been only eleven when his father died, he remembered 
his father had said over and over again, "We colored people must 
cultivate the mind." Dan could support himself by working in 
Anderson's barbershop only part-time and that way he was able 
to attend the Jefferson High School. 

It was a fine school, much better than the old shanty set aside 
for colored children in Hollidaysburg, or even the new but seg- 
regated Stanton School of the Freedmen's Bureau he had attended 
for a few months near his grandmother's home in Maryland. 

But Sally soon married and went north to live in Portage. Un- 
doubtedly Dan again felt abandoned. He continued his high school 
work a while, but he suffered frequent heavy chest colds and 
finally left high school without being graduated. 

One day Harry Anderson discovered Dan could strum a guitar 
and sing in a very passable tenor. Perhaps he overheard him 
singing to the children: 

Come all ye bold sailors that follow the Lakes 
On an iron ore vessel your living to make; 
I shipp'd in Chicago, bid adieu to the shore, 

8 Daniel Hale Williams 

Bound away to Escanaba for red iron ore. 
Der-ry down, down, down derry down! 

Dan, usually reticent, disclosed he had followed the Lakes for 
a time, playing and singing, though he just played by ear. He 
wasn't as good as his uncle who had an orchestra back in Harris- 
burg. His uncle, his mother's brother, used to go into a music store 
and look at the music, not to buy it, just to whistle it off under 
his breath. Then he would go home and play it all, without miss- 
ing a note. In contrast to this glamorous uncle, Dan depreciated his 
own abilities, but Anderson evidently thought Dan had the mak- 
ings of a note-reader in him. At any rate the young barber started 
going to the bandrooms after work. He learned to play the big 
bull fiddle and became a member of Anderson's famous string 
band, accompanying celebrities who came to the Meyer Opera 
House, Modjeska among them, playing for the important enter- 
tainments at Apollo Hall, the frequent square dances at the Grange 
Hall, and traveling all over Wisconsin and sometimes outside 
the state. 

Among Janesville's citizenry of 10,000 were many strong, ven- 
turesome men who had left New York State and New England 
in the depressions of the '305 and '50$ and come out to sparsely 
settled Wisconsin in search of new opportunities. They had found 
them in the unusual beauty and riches of the Rock River valley. 
The fertile prairies carpeted with luxuriant grasses needed no 
clearing to yield the farmer his return, and the wide clear stream 
flowing over a limestone bottom provided water power for a 
variety of industries woolen and cotton mills, manufacture of 
boots and shoes, of fine buggies and carriages, sleighs and cutters, 
and the much-needed farm machinery. 

These early settlers were men of vision and faith. Not a few 
were college-trained. It mattered little what their business or pro- 
fession, they were all civic-minded and put as much effort into 
the affairs of Janesville as they put into their own affairs: W. T. 
Van Kirk, the grocer; Orrin Guernsey, the insurance man; Henry 


Palmer, the physician. Palmer was on the boards of the pickle 
factory and the savings bank, of a commercial college and the 
new cotton mill. These men held town office and went to the 
state legislature. 

Coming in to Anderson's barbershop for a haircut or to have 
their beards trimmed, these settlers from the East who had brought 
with them their books, their Abolitionism, their passion for better- 
ment, stayed on to argue all sorts of matters. They argued the 
virtues of free trade, the need for resuming specie payments, 
Darwin's theories of evolution, the way Hayes was handing the 
South back to its old leaders. 

To young Dan Williams, snipping away with agile fingers, 
listening to all that was said, the barbershop was a kind of school, 
and between customers, it was a good place to get some reading 

"You like to read?" Orrin Guernsey asked the youth one day, 
seeing him put aside a book as he jumped up to serve him. 
Yes, Dan answered, he did, whenever he could get hold of a 

Guernsey was sympathetic. Janesville ought to have a library, 
but he reminded Dan that they did have books at the reading 
rooms of the Young Men's Association. 

"I've read all those," Dan replied, "all I like, I've read." 

Encouraged to say what he did like, Dan mentioned history 
and great lives, and Guernsey promptly began bringing the boy 
books to read from his own library. 

But Dan was not satisfied with this life. What he really wanted 
was to enter college. To do that he must have a high school 
diploma or pass examinations that were beyond him. 

Under the stimulation of Guernsey's books and his own yearn- 
ing to make something of himself, he arranged for special tutor- 
ing in the Classical Academy. Principal Haire's fees were within 
his reach seventy-five cents a week for Latin and the higher 
studies. Anderson agreed to let him go back on a part-time basis 
at the shop, and apparently never referred to any difficulties 
the new arrangement might cause him. The least a colored man 

to Daniel Hale Williams 

could do was help an ambitious lad of his race get on, especially 
a lad you had come to love like your own son. 

The day after Dan had attended his first classes at the Academy, 
Dr. Haire received two callers In his office. The first was the beau- 
tiful Minerva Guernsey, eighteen-year-old daughter of Dan's 
kindly lender of books. Already Minnie was Janesville's favorite 
elocutionist, and not without reason, for in time Minnie would 
bring sophisticated audiences of Boston and New York to her 
feet. Just now, however, she was preparing at the Academy for 
her college entrance examinations. She still remembered, when 
she was an old lady, how upset she was as she stood before the 
tall, thin, bald-headed principal. 

"Oh, Professor Haire," she cried, "Maggie Hullihan says her 
father won't have Dan Williams in this school. She says her father 
will make you put him out. Just because he has colored blood!" 
Her young bosom heaved and her 'eyes were bright with unshed 
tears as her Abolition inheritance and her flair for the dramatic 
combined to urge her on. 

"Professor Haire," she cried, "if you put Dan out of this school, 
I'll -I'll leave, that's what I'll do!" 

"Please control yourself, Miss Guernsey," replied the unper- 
turbed principal. "We have no intention of dismissing Mr. Wil- 
liams from our school." 

Scarcely had Minnie departed than Maggie Hullihan's father, 
an oculist and former North Carolinian, climbed the stairs to the 
principal's office. 

"I'm told one of those young barbers of Anderson's is in 
attendance here. Is that true?" he demanded. 

"If you mean Daniel Williams, sir," John Haire answered, "it 
is. He's a very good student." 

"Good student or not," Hullihan shouted, "he can't go to school 
with my daughter! Don't you know he's got Negro blood in 
him? Maybe he does look white, but he's a Negro all the 

"Yes, I know Mr. Williams has an African strain, Mr. Hulli- 
han," the principal replied as he unlocked a small drawer in his 


roll-top desk. Out of It he took three silver dollars and handed 
them to his caller. "Here is Miss Maggie's tuition, sir. I believe 
you had paid one month in advance? Quite so." As the outraged 
father picked up his hat, the unruffled principal added soothingly, 
"This is Wisconsin, not North Carolina. I fear you do not realize 
that fact, Mr. Hullihan." 

If the Hullihans expected other families to follow their example, 
they were disappointed. None did. But somehow Dan learned 
what had happened. Dan who could well remember his sister Ida's 
leading him past the white children's fine brick school back East 
and on to the shabby frame shack where the colored children 
received their second-rate education, Dan thanked his principal 
by redoubling his time with his books. 

Despite the spotlight focused on him, his demeanor remained 
apparently unruffled as he pursued his serious quiet way. When 
the girls discussed the new boy in the cloakroom Mara Franc 
Edwards gave it as her opinion and she repeated it when she 
was ninety-two that "He's just like everybody else," and since 
Frankie's opinion counted, that settled the matter. 

Janesville in the 'yos offered much to arouse and encourage 
those disposed to accept it. Professor Haire conducted Home 
Forums on Tuesday evenings, and on Wednesday evenings Liter- 
ary Round Tables were led by blind, talented John Van Cleve. 
A spirit of search and inquiry, a passion for learning and improve- 
ment was in the air. 

Janesville was not ingrown. The great men and women who 
were stirring other parts of the country were invited to come to 
Janesville. Henry Ward Beecher came, and Elizabeth Cady Stan- 
ton, and the challenging Colonel Robert Ingersoll. 

Dan came away from IngersolPs lecture excited and elated. The 
man's words sparkled in his consciousness like an invasion of 
meteors from another planet: "When people read, they begin to 
reason, and when they reason, they progress." He was reading, 
so perhaps he was progressing after all. What else had Ingersoll 
said? "Every library is an arsenal, filled with the weapons and am- 
munition of Progress, and every fact is a Monitor with sides of 

1 2 Daniel Hale Williams 

iron and a turret of steel . . . the life of a lie is simply a question 
of time. Nothing but truth is immortal." That gave you hope. 

At this time, Dan had the good fortune to come under the in- 
fluence of the pastor of All Souls Unitarian Church. By rights 
Dan should have attended the Methodist Church. His own father 
had been an ardent worker in the Methodist Church and both 
his grandfathers had been devout Methodist preachers. The 
Andersons, too, went to the Methodist Church. But Dan became 
a Unitarian. 

The Reverend Jenkin Lloyd Jones, pastor of All Souls, spear- 
headed much of the intellectual and moral ferment of Janesville. 
He was always startling people, saying women ought to vote, that 
Negroes should be treated as equals, and announcing flatly that, 
although he had fought in the Civil War, he would never don 
uniform again. 

He organized a Mutual Improvement Club for the young 
people. Into its programs he brought a wide range of interests 
scientific, civic, and philanthropic as well as literary. And to bal- 
ance this serious hour he added an hour of square dancing to 
follow and invited Anderson, George and Dan to come and play 
for it. 

Dan played at All Souls, too, for the dime entertainments of 
the Sunday School and for the church services on Sunday. One 
way and another, he saw a good deal of the inspiring preacher 
with the advanced ideas. The Welshman's influence upon the 
impressionable; aspiring youth was important. 

While Dan was playing bass fiddle, barbering and attending, 
classes, two years had slipped quickly by. Now he was twenty- 
one. Soon he would have his diploma from the Academy and 
another decision would lie ahead of him. He must do something, 
get ahead, but how? 

That spring of 1877 Dan had another problem. Despite him- 
self, he was caught in a flirtation, an invasion of all his careful 
program for work and study an invasion of the wall between 
himself and white persons, a wall behind which he had proudly 
withdrawn. It was blonde, apple-cheeked Ida Williams, by chance 


of his same name, by fate of another race,. who had breached it. 

It all started by chance. Various men in the orchestra stepped 
out at times for a dance or two, and all the girls at the Academy 
loved to dance with Dan; he had a true musician's grace and 
rhythm. But Ida, pert, popular Ida, used to having her own way, 
had pushed the matter beyond chance. It was not Dan's doing, 
at least not in the beginning. Minnie Guernsey and Frankie Ed- 
wards were positive about that. But soon he was dancing with 
no one else. 

"Ida's got a terrific crush on Dan Williams!" The word buzzed 
around. It could be confirmed at any party. Sooner or later the 
high-spirited Ida would be found in a set right under the nose of 
the orchestra. And sooner or later Dan would be found on the 
dance floor following Ida's white Paris muslin frock through the 
mazes of circle left and circle right and ladies' chain to the grand 
finale, when he turned with thumping heart and caught her hands 
in his as Harry Anderson called out: u S-w-i~-n~g the girl behind 

Dan might well have been disturbed to find himself thus perched 
on the brink of so unwanted a situation. Some Williams men had 
loved and married white women. His grandfather had chosen 
a Scotch-Irish bride, his grandfather's cousin a German one. 
Harry Anderson had married Ellen and it was a happy marriage. 
It was all right, Dan could suppose, if a woman was ready to place 
her loyalties where yours were, to stick out everything, through 
thick and thin. His own father, however, had married a girl 
darker than himself. And if Dan had thought of matrimony at all, 
he doubtless had thought that of course he would do as his father 
had done. Not many months later he wrote Anderson: "I might 
have had thousands for liesure, but I would not marry a white 
girl." But Ida's father solved his problem. 

Gossip of the flirtation inevitably reached the ears of John P. 
Williams, the town's leading basso, soloist in all the local can- 
tatas, as popular in adult circles as his daughter was in younger 
circles. He understood his willful offspring rather well He took 
her aside for a frank talk, Ida confessed to Frankie Edwards, and 

14 Daniel Hale Williams 

suggested he was thinking of sending her to public school along 
with her stepsister, Carrie Jacobs. 

Ida wanted to stay on at the Academy. So she decided to be 
more circumspect. Soon she was seen setting her cap for Blanche 
Burdick's fiance Jim Lord. 

And Dan, how could he make amends to Ida? It was a sweet 
debt, and he did not forget it. Years later, when the widowed 
Ida Williams Lord brought her ailing son to the famous Dr. Wil- 
liams for an operation, he performed it and sent no bill. And 
many years later still, -when he sat down to write his will, he be- 
queathed, in the middle of a long list, a sum to Ida Lord, because, 
he wrote, it had been her father who had first encouraged Ijim 
to study medicine. 

A strange explanation. Though old Simeon Lord was in fact a 
doctor and had several daughters, Ida was only his daughter-in- 
law. Moreover, not Dr. Lord but another Rock County physician 
was to encourage Dan Williams to study medicine. 


A Medical Apprentice In 1878 

GRADUATION Day at the Academy came and went and still 
Dan had made no decision as to his future. 

Preaching had been the ardent, sincere pursuit of many of his 
devout forebears. Both his grandfathers had preached on Sundays, 
not to make a livelihood, but out of a dedicated spirit, offering 
their people faith and hope and the love of God to carry them 
through. But remembering the iconoclastic Ingersoll and the 
Unitarian Jenkin Lloyd Jones, Dan could no longer accept the 
theology of his ancestors. 

Teaching should be possible, now that he had a diploma. Es- 
pecially if he took a country school. But he was far too shy to 
face a roomful of big strapping boys intent on worsting him. 

Then there was the law. His brother Price, ten years older 
than he, was a successful lawyer and politician, flitting from 
Philadelphia to New York and back again to Washington. Daring, 
voluble, Price was their mother's favorite. Now that Dan had 
his diploma, why couldn't he read law like Price? He could keep 
books and do clerical work for a lawyer, and read law while he 
was doing it. Dan knew a white Congressman, a leading member 
of the Janesville bar, who had delivered an eloquent address on 
Emancipation Day. It would be easy enough to speak to the man 
the next time he came into the barbershop. 

So it came about that Dan Williams, destined to be a doctor, 

16 Daniel Hale Williams 

spent the winter turning the dusty pages of Littleton and Black- 
stone and grew ever more miserable. He had not yet found his 
true bent. 

There is no one to tell us today just how Dan's interest was 
first caught by medicine. His growing distaste for law in after- 
life he said law was making money out of people's quarrels and 
he always shrank from quarrels made him look around for some 
more congenial profession. Medicine and surgery were spread 
graphically before him in almost every issue of the local paper. 
The Gazette liked nothing better, apparently, than to describe the 
doings of the town's most prominent doctor and ex-mayor. If 
Henry Palmer was not snowbound, forced to abandon his horse 
and buggy, and trudging on foot to care for his patients "Show 
us the man," cried the Gazette, "that says the doctor has not got 
sand!" then he was amputating a child's leg, crushed when 
the boy clambered up on a moving freight car. Or he was probing 
to no avail for the bullet that had lodged somewhere in the body 
of the victim of a drunken brawl. 

The gunshot case was reported on regularly for several issues. 
One bullet had passed clear through the body, another was se- 
creted where it could not be found. Was the liver injured? Dr. 
Palmer could not tell. It was not the most hopeful sort of case, 
though sometimes bodies did heal with bullets inside them. Every- 
one would have to wait and see what turn affairs took. Five or 
six days might tell . . . 

It was enough to stir an imagination far less vivid than Dan's. 
His inquiring mind would understandably lead him to ask ques- 
tions of the doctor when he encountered him as he had constant 
occasion to do in the barbershop where he had found a friend in 
Orrin Guernsey, at the Art Association reception where Dr. Palm- 
er's interest in pictures would bring him and where Dan played 
with Anderson's band, at Dr. Palmer's silver wedding anniversary 
where again Dan played, or, perhaps, on the country road. Dan 
used to take the Anderson buggy and drive Ellen's friend, Mrs. 
Benjamin Hall another white woman married to a mulatto 
when she had carpet rags ready to go to the weaver at Mt. Zion. 


When buggies pulled out to pass on country roads, folk stopped 
a while to exchange news and rest their horses. But whether on 
such an occasion or some other, Dan had every opportunity in a 
small friendly town to talk with Dr. Palmer. 

And eventually the talk led to his entering Dr. Palmer's busy 
office as an apprentice. Dr. Palmer's daughter, Elizabeth Palmer 
Taylor, then a little girl, remembers only that Dan came about the 
time or shortly before her brother Will left for medical college 
when her father needed another apprentice. 

She recalls that her father did not accept Dan as an apprentice 
right off. He made Dan go home and think it over, not once, but 
several times. Young men should not be forever switching about, 
the doctor pointed out. Did Dan want to throw away those 
months he had put in at law? And was he strong enough for long 
and irregular hours, for cold buggy rides on dark, stormy nights? 
Was he prepared for the wear and tear of constant dealing with 
pain and suffering and for being unable, sometimes, to do any- 
thing whatever about it? 

The red-haired, quicksilver Dan was made to do some sober, 
solid thinking. But the more he thought, the more desirable medi- 
cine became. In the end he convinced Palmer and was allowed to 
take a place beside Will in the doctor's busy office in the Smith 
Block, at the corner of Main and East Milwaukee Streets. 

Now at last Dan began to be his own man. Now he could 
put all his energy into his vocation for he was certain that 
medicine was his vocation instead of dissipating half of it in 
inner bewilderment and rebellion. The change in him was star- 
tling. His health improved. His step quickened until he fairly ran. 

No one could beat Dan when it came to driving himself in 
hard work. And fortunately he had the dictionary habit. He 
buckled down to learning the strange new vocabulary. His Latin 
was a help, and his German. Soon he was turning the dog-eared 
pages of Palmer's books Gray's Anatomy and The National 
Dispensatory with twice the avidity he had employed in reading 
Littleton's Tenures or Blackstone's Commentaries. 

Reading medicine in some doctor's office was the method in 

1 8 Daniel Hale Williams 

1878 for beginning a medical career. Still earlier, apprenticeship 
had been the sole means of acquiring a medical education. But 
now, in Dan's youth, a student began with a practicing doctor 
as his preceptor and, when the doctor was ready to give him 
credentials, he went on to attend one or two terms of lectures 
at some medical school. Dan could begin his medical education, 
therefore, without any financial outlay. Later he would have to 
find ways and means to complete his training. 

The apprentice system was as good as the individuals involved. 
If the student was eager and hard-working, if the preceptor was 
both a skilled practitioner and a good teacher, then the results 
were good. The actual contact with cases gave a reality to the 
affair that was lost in the later system of purely didactic schooling 
and not regained until the establishment of interneships. If Dan 
had to sweep out the office, care for Palmer's horse and phaeton, 
and help keep accounts, he also helped set fractures and dress 
wounds. He put up powders and that gave him a knowledge of 
the properties of drugs, their appearance, taste and feel, along 
with the conditions for which they were used, and the dosage. 
He became skillful in making a urinalysis. Above all he saw 
disease and did not just read about it. 

Dan was fortunate in his preceptor. Henry Palmer was fifty, 
at the height of his powers, when Dan began studying with him. 
For his day Palmer was unusually qualified. His short formal edu- 
cation had been preceded by two years' apprenticeship with two 
eminent physicians and professors of medicine in Albany, New 
York, and followed by two years as resident surgeon of an 
infirmary in Troy. Thus qualified he had come out to Janes- 
ville in one of the early immigrant waves from the East and had 
had almost ten years' experience before the Civil War broke out. 
Volunteering then as a surgeon, he had come out of those arduous, 
bloody years a seasoned, daring operator, and the director, as 
well, of the largest military hospital of the war. 

Palmer's horizons were not at any time confined to the Rock 
River valley, nor was his reputation. He was active in the new 
American Medical Association and served a term as vice-president. 


He held the office of Surgeon General of Wisconsin for ten years 
and, when the College of Physicians and Surgeons was founded 
in Chicago, he was called not to one chair but to several oper- 
ative surgery, surgical pathology, clinical surgery. 

Dr. Palmer was cool, quick of eye, and dexterous. People 
trusted him. Supported by a strong will and great powers of 
endurance, he performed some of the most dangerous operations 
under the difficult conditions of the preantiseptic era. Surgery was 
rough then and often brutal. You made up your mind what had 
to be done and did it quickly. There was no such thing as pre- 
operative preparation either of patient or of instruments. Post- 
operative infection was the expected thing. Internal surgery was 
almost never tried. No opening the body to find lost bullets or 
to inspect or remove diseased parts. Cases were confined to the 
necessities of accident injuries. The new railroads, the agricultural 
machines, and runaway horses sent many patients to Dr. Palmer's 
office. Tobogganing on Janesville's hills brought in some cases, 

Broken noses were common affairs. The doctor would poke 
his finger swiftly up one nostril, then up the other, slap on the 
plaster Dan handed him, and say: 

"Go on home now and go to bed, son. In a week you'll be 
ready to go rooting again." 

It was not the techniques learned from Dr. Palmer that were 
to take Dan so far, but, what was more important, a certain 
courageous promptness and dispatch. 

Henry Palmer was a ripe scholar and a man of culture. He 
found time while on a trip inspecting the hospitalization of 
wounded in the Russo-Turkish War to make the best art collec- 
tion known to Southern Wisconsin. On his return he had lectured 
to his fellow townsmen and they packed the Baptist Church to 
hear him. He went to other towns, when he could find time, and 
repeated the lecture. He was part and parcel of important civic 
enterprises, an indefatigable worker of broad interests. Associa- 
tion with such a man left its inevitable mark on his apprentices. 
Dan knew he was fortunate to be where he was. 

20 Daniel Hale Williams 

In the spring of 1879 Palmer accepted another apprentice, 
Frank Pember, a year younger than Dan, who had spent three 
years at Milton College eight miles away. And in the fall of 1879, 
when his son Will went off to medical college, Palmer accepted 
yet another, James S. Mills, four years Dan's senior, also from 
Milton, a sober mature young Scot who after ten years of alter- 
nate study and teaching had finally won his A.B. With three 
apprentices on shift, Palmer could announce that his office was 
open day and night. 

Out of the association of these three young men came mutual 
respect and lasting friendship. Pember gave Dan his autographed 
photograph. "To my associate in study," he wrote, and Dan 
put it alongside a photograph of Dr. Palmer's big brick house, 
keeping them both in a leather-bound album of his friends, girls 
and young men, colored and white. 

In the late spring of 1880 Palmer told his apprentices that by 
fall he would be ready to give them credentials for medical col- 
lege. The time had come for Dan to leave Janesville. It promised 
to be easier for Dan than he might once have found it, for every- 
one else seemed to be leaving Janesville too. The Reverend Jenkin 
Lloyd Jones was moving on to wider fields and All Souls Church 
must find a new pastor. Mrs. Haire had died and her husband 
had closed the Academy. The Andersons were moving from 
Glen Street. Harry Anderson had fitted up living quarters over 
his barbershop, "in fine style," the Gazette said, and was installing 
his family there. Dan's friends from the Academy were scattered. 
Minerva Guernsey, after good notices in Boston, was preparing 
for her New York City debut. Ida Williams's father had died and 
she had gone to Madison to live. 

When Pember and Mills made up their minds to go to Chicago 
to finish their training, Dan determined to go with them, though 
where the money was coming from he scarcely knew. He had al- 
ways made what money he could on the side; he had barbered 
for Anderson and he played in the orchestra. Now he added 
another occupation, stringing up wires for the new telephone ex- 


change there were sixteen subscribers and the new electric 
street lights. Henry Palmer's capital and energy were, of course, 
behind both ventures and through him Dan secured the work. 

Dan managed to save enough money to buy some necessities 
and the new suit with the braid-bound cutaway without which 
he did not feel he could face a strange new world. He grew a 
drooping silky mustache. But he still lacked a good part of the 
hundred dollars or more he would need for fees and books. 

Harry Anderson had been enormously pleased with Dan's 
change from law to medicine, pleased with the new vim it had 
put into the young man, and pleased that his race, in the person 
of Dan, should thus be making progress. Secretly he cherished the 
hope that this restless, aspiring young man would someday marry 
his daughter Vytie, though he had to admit it was only a hope. 
So he suggested to Dan that he borrow the money he needed at 
the bank; he said he would gladly go on his note. 

There remained then the matter of living expenses. Dan felt 
he might well get help from his mother. His grandfather Price 
had died during the war, his grandmother in 1876. The Price 
estate was now being settled between his mother and her brother's 
widow, Mary. In July some Harrisburg property had been 
awarded by the courts to Mary Price, and the home place in 
Annapolis, together with a smaller property, had been assigned 
to Sarah Williams. There remained two other small pieces of real 
estate and twenty shares of bank stock, with dividends accumu- 
lated during thirteen years, to be sold and divided between the 
two women. All Sarah's older children were now married and 
settled. The two younger were in their twenties and making their 
own way, Alice by sewing and Florence in office work. There 
seemed no reason why Dan should not now receive some help 
from his mother. 

She was slow in answering his plea, but on the strength of this 
hope he wrote an old family friend, the elderly Mrs. John Jones, 
who lived in Chicago near the college he hoped to attend. He 
asked her if she would take him to board. Mrs. Jones would not 

22 Daniel Hale Williams 

commit herself in advance to boarding Dan, but she did write 

him to come and see her when he got to Chicago. 

When Dr. Palmer's three apprentices went to Chicago to com- 
plete their training, mushroom medical schools, faddists and un- 
chartered diploma mills were at their height. Homeopaths and 
Eclectics were two of the more sober in a galaxy of medical sects 
that ranged from the Botanic school to the Thompsonian. Some 
self-styled colleges required only twelve or sixteen weeks' attend- 
ance before they granted the degree of Doctor of Medicine. Many 
were but a step or two ahead of the preceptor, if, indeed, they 
were not behind him. Ill-prepared practitioners came in to brush 
up. They were put in classes with boys of no educational back- 
ground. All attended the same set of lectures an identical daily 
dosage ladled out to all alike. The sine qua non was anatomy and 
for this study dissecting material was essential. The inability to 
secure cadavers by grave robbing or otherwise was often the event 
that ended more than one of these hastily established and short- 
lived educational institutions. Often irate citizens ended the ven- 
ture with a shotgun. 

Out of this array the serious student had but two real choices 
in Chicago, Rush Medical College and Chicago Medical College 
for the College of Physicians and Surgeons had not yet been 
founded. Rush was the older, had four hundred students, twice 
as many as Chicago Medical, and boasted a newer, larger building. 
It stood at the corner of Wood and Harrison Streets, across from 
Cook County Hospital. In contrast the gabled, turreted, ginger- 
bread-trimmed quarters of its rival at Prairie Avenue and 2 6th 
Street seemed old and shabby. But Chicago Medical had more 
important advantages and it was these which had made it Henry 
Palmer's choice for his son and for his apprentices. In fact, in all 
the country, impecunious Dan Williams could not have hit upon 
any better school. 

Founded twenty years before as the medical department of the 
defunct Lind University and now affiliated with Northwestern 
University, Chicago Medical was not just another proprietary 


school run for the profit of its owners. It had operated from the 
first in a university setting. Its express mission was to carry out 
the long-propounded reforms of that great educational innovator, 
Nathan Smith Davis, one of the founders of the American Medi- 
cal Association. Courageously those ideals had been put into prac- 
tice: better preliminary education, a graded curriculum, more 
and longer terms, direct clinical instruction. Not even the Eastern 
schools had gone so far, nor did they for a dozen years after Chi- 
cago Medical was founded. 

In the fall of 1880 when Dan went to Chicago, Rush required 
two terms of five months each. But Chicago Medical required 
three terms of six months. In the face of such competition, the 
standards of Chicago Medical were heroically high. Students who 
failed to pass their first-year examinations at Chicago Medical 
could and did go over to Rush, pass their examinations, and be 
graduated at the end of the second year, a whole year ahead of 
those with whom they had entered college. Chicago Medical 
students had to draw their satisfaction from the fact their school 
went in for quality, not quantity. 

As soon as they arrived in the city, Dan and his companions had 
but one thought, to register and unburden their pockets of un- 
usual wealth before it was lost or stolen. As quickly as possible 
they made their way, by horse car and on foot, to Prairie Avenue 
and 26th Street. With some relief they saw the neighborhood 
was superior. It was clean, which most of Chicago was not, with 
paved streets and, along the borders, trees. 

Entering the college building, they found it empty and echo- 
ing. They were a week early and there was no one to greet them 
but a middle-aged janitor. This was a chilling welcome, but the 
janitor was amiable about showing new students around. 

Dan, Pember and Mills eagerly followed him from room to 
room, feasting their eyes on the cabinet of drugs in the museum, 
on the casts and models and skeletons, including the mounted 
skeleton of an elephant. At last they tore themselves away from 
the museum, took a quick look into the chemical laboratory with 

24 Darnel Hale Williams 

its stained tables, scattered bottles and strange odors, then fol- 
lowed their guide to the two amphitheaters. Chicago Medical 
could give lectures to two classes simultaneously. 

The young men looked down the descending tiers of cramped 
seats. Far below in the dim funneled light they saw the lecture 
platform, where operations sometimes were performed. The 
janitor warned them not under any circumstances to try to sit in 
the lower seats. First-year men did well to know their place and 
that was not in the seats with the best view. 

Grateful for the warning, the three then toured the dispensary 
rooms. Through its eight departments passed a thousand patients 
a month, more than they saw in many times that period in Dr. 
Palmer's office. One door in the basement was not opened to them. 
"That's the dead house," explained the janitor. 

The dissection room was Chicago Medical's particular pride. 
The Announcement declared that "special facilities for the preser- 
vation of material are such that the supply is absolutely unfail- 
ing." The young men wished to see these special facilities and, 
hopefully, some of the "material," but they had to be content 
with the janitor's description. The room, he said, had a double 
wall of logs. Into the space between, tons of ice were poured each 
season. What he did not tell them and what they must wait to 
find out for themselves was that the logs became moist, soft, rotten 
and moldy and the cadavers did too, often reaching the students 
soft from decomposition or dry and leathery, and in either case 
sure to be covered with long green moss. It was a hardy soul 
who pursued his anatomical studies beyond the minimum require- 
ments of dissection of "three parts of the body." 

In blissful ignorance of what lay ahead of them, the neophytes 
followed the janitor upstairs. They thanked him for his kindness 
and went next door to take a look at the exterior of the great 
Mercy Hospital on the corner of 2 6th Street and Calumet Avenue. 
This "elegant structure," or so the Announcement styled it, was 
staffed entirely by members of the college faculty and used ex- 
clusively by Chicago Medical for the bedside instruction of ad- 
vanced students. It was no mean asset at a time when Mercy and 


Cook County were the only hospitals of consequence in Chicago. 
Cook County, although next door to Rush, was not at the ex- 
clusive disposal of Rush, but necessarily as a public institution 
was open to all medical students in the city, unless the politicians 
closed its doors completely against any students, as they occa- 
sionally did. St. Luke's was but a modest frame building in Hell's 
Half Acre of poverty and violence. On the North Side were two 
or three Catholic institutions. That was all that boastful, thriv- 
ing Chicago provided for the medical care of its 400,000 in- 

The Janesville trio walked slowly around two sides of the 
famous red brick structure, twin of the college building. They 
knew there were as many as 175 patients in Mercy Hospital, but 
not for another year would they be permitted to go inside. 

While Mills and Pember set out to make their living arrange- 
ments, Dan went to call on Mrs. Jones. Walking south on Prairie 
Avenue past the fantastic stone mansions of Millionaire Row, he 
turned east on Ray Avenue, three blocks below the college, and 
stopped at No. 43. 

Mrs. Jones's home was a substantial white frame structure of 
dignified classical lines. John Jones had built it in the suburbs, only 
to have the spreading city engulf his property. It was the mush- 
rooming city and some shrewd real estate investments, coupled 
with a conscientiously built tailoring business, that had enabled 
John Jones, at his decease the previous year, to leave his widow 
and daughters a fortune. He left them as well a name outstanding 
both in colored and white Chicago, for he had been a leader in 
many civil rights reforms and was twice elected County Commis- 
sioner. When Dan called on Mrs. Jones her husband's portrait 
hung over the mantel in her walnut and horsehair parlor; later 
it would go to the Chicago Historical Society. 

If Dan felt no timidity in approaching this imperious old lady, 
social arbiter and wealthiest of Chicago's colored elite, it was be- 
cause his own family standing was the equal of that of Mary and 
John Jones. John Jones might have died rich, but he had started 
poor, and the Prices and the Williamses had been comfortably 

z6 Daniel Hale Williams 

well-to-do for many generations. And if the Joneses were of free, 
mixed blood, the Prices and the Williamses had enjoyed that 
status back to the Revolution and before. 

John Jones and Dan's relatives had been through the long fight 
for Emancipation together. Side by side with his Rockf ord cousins 
in the state conventions of free colored people, and with his 
father and other Williamses in the national conventions, Jones 
and all of them had fought fought to keep up the hope of their 
despairing brothers below the border, to organize and sustain the 
resistance of their fellows in the North, to spur on the white Abo- 
litionists. It had been a fight that had called for men of like char- 
acter, men of courage and singleness of purpose, men who never 
gave up. The friendships forged in those years were of a strength 
that outlasted more than one generation. 

Mrs. Jones was happy to receive the son of her husband's old 
friend. She saw his purpose was serious and found his manners 
correct, so she told Dan readily enough that he might come to 
live in her home. He breathed a sigh of relief. 

It was a feminine household, she told him, consisting of herself, 
her widowed daughter, Lavinia Lee, and her adopted daughter, 
Sarah Raynie Petit, still unmarried. Both the younger women were 
in their middle thirties. There was also a nine-year-old grand- 
daughter, Theodora Lee. And Theodora's poodle. Rather a 
nuisance, but it seemed children had to have pets. Thedy was 
perhaps a little spoiled, said the old lady dryly. Now what could 
Dan tell her of his father's cousin, Samuel Williams, who had 
gone to Liberia in the days of the exodus before the Civil War? 
What had happened to him? Did he ever come back? 

"That was before my time, ma'am," Dan answered, "but of 
course I know the story," and he told her how Samuel Williams 
had grown sick and tired of discrimination and had sold all his 
considerable property in Johnstown and bought much equipment, 
including a sawmill, and transported it with all his family and 
thirty friends to Liberia. The sawmill had failed because he could 
not get the logs down the swampy rivers, and his wife and his old 
mother had died of the fever. However, Samuel lived to make 


several trips back and forth between the two continents. "He 
wrote a book about his experiences," Dan wound up. 

"I'd like to read it," said Mrs. Jones and regaled Dan with 
accounts of visits to her home by John Brown. In short the two 
got on famously. 


Dan Goes to Medical School 

ALL the medical colleges opened with fanfare and a public lec- 
ture on the same evening. Each vied with the other to entertain 
the laity and impress the new student by jocular accounts of the 
ignorance of the medical past and complacent references to those 
who "have purged the profession of its errors and brought it to 
its present perfection." Audiences responded first with gratifying 
laughter and then with applause. The customary benediction 

Next morning the serious work of the year began. Dan hesi- 
tated to set out. Even late in life, when he was famous, his friends 
revealed he would sometimes have this reluctance to meet new 
white people. He couldn't blurt out the facts of his mixed blood, he 
wanted no one who discovered it- later to think he was trading 
on his appearance, and especially he wanted no one to turn against 
Pember and Mills because they were seen with him. But Pember 
and Mills had long ago forgotten he was a Negro. They included 
him in Chicago as they had in Janesville. 

Dan sat between his two friends, high up in the amphitheater, 
holding his bowler on his knees. Dean Davis stood before them, 
deadly serious. His piercing eyes under shaggy white brows rested 
on first this one, then that, dominating them each in turn by the 
f orcefulness of his personality as he delivered his opening remarks. 
"Gentlemen, you are at the threshold of a great profession. . . . 


Be worthy of your choice." The sonorous voice floated up to 
them: ". . . conservators of the bodies of men . . . moral and 
spiritual menders of the minds of weak humanity. . . . Favor not 
the fleshpots of the wealthy, but serve alike the rich, the poor, 
and yes, the sordid. ... Be ready for hardships. . . ." To con- 
trol his emotion, for opening days always stirred him, the dean 
pinched his nose with a gesture they would all come to recognize. 
The young men before him relieved their feelings by shuffling 
their feet and clearing their throats. 

Finally Dean Davis concluded his opening oratory and settled 
down to a plain talk on the importance of industry. Much hard 
work lay ahead of them. . . . 

Two days after college opened, a slightly homesick Dan sat 
down and wrote to Janesville. Taking a pencil and a ruled tablet, 
he inscribed "Chicago, III." with a great flourish at the top of 
the page as if to convince himself he really was an inhabitant 
of the fourth largest city in the country. But after he had written 
"Mr. C. H. Anderson, My Dear Friend," with proper formality, 
he was done with flourishes and opened his heart at once: "Many 
times since I left your home," he wrote, "and come here to further 
my end in life, have I realized your true interest and friendship. 
When I get among strangers and observe there actions I can 
well appretiate your fatherly interest in me." Though Professor 
Haire's Classical Academy had not been able to make up for early 
neglect in matters of spelling and grammar, Dan did not have 
to be taught gratitude. "I hope," he wrote, "that I will never do 
anything that will for an instant cause you to regret the part 
you have taken in my career. 

"I have been, and am happy to say, successful in obtaining board 
and care in the Jones family. I know you are sure I could not do 
better. I am faring better and have cheaper board than any stu- 
dent in the college. Not even those that board themselves scan- 
tily and live in cold cheerless rooms, live as cheaply as I do. Mrs. 
Jones never has had a boarder and said she would take me as one 
of the family. Gave me a nice room, bath tub, gas, heat and ist 

30 Daniel Hale Williams 

class board and they do try to make it pleasant for me. She 
charges me $3.75, which I think is very reasonable. Do you? I 
could not do better. If I hunt Chicago over. I am only three 
blocks from the college and am well satisfied. I feel that I will 
do a good winters work." 

And then the big question they would not ask and he would 
answer but indirectly: was he encountering any race prejudice? 
"I get along nicely," he wrote, "with everyone and can see the 
bright side for once in my life." 

"I keep account of my expenses," he added next, "and will 
render you account from time to time. Enclosed find itemized 
account of the money I received from bank. You will observe 
that I have carefully laid out my money. There is once in a 
while that I or any one has to spend a few cents without much 
benefit to themselves." Had he perhaps gone to see Goodwin's 
Froliques at the Grand Opera House on Clark Street, or Josh 
Whitcomb at McVicker's? 

Once more he assured them, for he knew the letter would be 
read by the whole family, of his determined optimism: "I like the 
College and live in hopes of graduating a satisfaction to you and 
all concerned." Then he ended: "With a fond hope that you and 
family are well I remain Yours Obediently and Truly, D. H. W. 
43 Ray Ave " 

Everything was better than he had dared hope for. Dan set to 
work with vigor. Then word came from his mother that she had 
no cash to give him, she had been making some loans. Instead she 
sent him notes and suggested he collect on them. He saw at once 
they were of questionable value. ,Once more Sarah Williams had 
failed her son in a critical moment. 

There was his board to pay. He must have shivered when he 
thought of Mrs. Jones. If only he had been franker when first he 
made his arrangements with her. But Price pride and youthful 
timorousness had ruled him. Dressed in his new clothes, he had 
said nothing to her to counteract his appearance of prosperity. If 
he had, his way would have been easier now. Wealthy Mrs. Jones 


had not always been rich; no one would have been more sympa- 
thetic to his plight than she. But Dan had felt he must meet her 
as an equal. He had got into her home, he saw now, under false 
pretenses. What could he say to her? 

In his extremity he threw himself on Harry Anderson, on the 
man who was father to him. Anderson sent money for his imme- 
diate emergency, but asked for enlightenment. Wouldn't Dan 
get something when the Price home was sold? And if that was 
delayed, would not Mrs. Jones, who certainly did not need the 
money, wait until his inheritance came through? In a tangle of 
emotions, Dan sat down to try to explain. 

"I was delighted yesterday to receive my first letter from you," 
he wrote Anderson. "Not what it contained, but to know that 
you would write me once in a while. Of course I was in need 
of its contents, but am getting along nicely." He swung back 
and forth between resigning himself to extreme despair and 
lulling himself into a false sense of security. In neither did he come 
to grips with his situation. Finally he took a big breath and 
plunged in: 

"I laid aside today to write and tell you everything. You know 
just how I am fixed. The question is what can I do, situated as 
I am. I can do nothing. Its hard for you to support your family, 
meet your expenses and educate me." 

Even as he wrote the words, Dan knew the obvious answer 
was that his own family should help him, not Anderson. But he 
had to acknowledge that he could not count on his family: "I 
have written and appealed to them for means but it seems without 
avail." He tried to soften the harsh words, and added: "I know 
they have not got it. If Mother had it, she would send it." Evi- 
dently he could not bring himself to mention the extravagances, 
bad judgment, and indifference that explained why Sarah Williams 
had seemed never to have any money despite her substantial in- 
heritance. Instead he hastened to talk about the valueless notes she 
had sent him: "Nor can I get a dollar out of that fellow I have 
the notes on. I wrote to Mother and she is going to try and get 
some money on them for me." Anxious to show her in the best 

32 Daniel Hale Williams 

light he could, he said: "You will see by the telegram which I 
received last night that Mother is trying to help me. She wants 
me to send the notes so that she can make some arrangements 
with some one to get some money on them." 

Now came the hardest part of all. "You ask me if I made 
arrangements with Mrs. Jones to pay her when I get the money. 
I did not dare tell her I was so poor. I really don't think she 
would have taken me and not for such a small price. She took me 
on the strength of knowing my relatives, etc." 

It must have seemed to Dan as he sat in his comfortable room, 
with classes under way a scant three weeks, that all his dreams 
were dissolving in his hands. "I get so discouraged," he wrote 
Anderson, "that I can't make much progress. I know that I have 
a good friend in you and here I find myself when I sit down to 
think it over. The question comes to me. What will I do. What 
can I do. I can only do the best I can. I could quit for a year or 
so and resume my studies again. But I am afraid that if I stop 
now that I will never commence again. ... I have been up town 
but three times since I've been here. ... I don't go anywhere 
but from house to the College. ... I will write another letter, 
one you can show to Viata and folks." 

So Dan agonized over his dilemma, when he should have been 
devoting all his energy to his difficult new studies. On a Sunday 
early in November he again wrote Anderson; there was bitterness 
in almost every word: "Today being rny day to write, if I had 
any, I thought I would drop you a line. The money you sent 
me of course you know I received. I am not in need of any money 
today, though I have but 35 cents. But before another Sunday I 
shall be. The money which you were so kind to send me, I paid to 
Mrs. Jones for board. I paid her $8.75 and kept $1.25 for sundries. 
I board by the month and she wants everything straight on ist 
of each month. So do I, for she is rather of the old coon style, 
if she is John Jones wife. I mean she is one of the old school 
like Aunt Charlotte of Annapolis fame. They are very particular 
about everything. It will do me good, it will learn me to think 
before I act and say." 


The answer from Wisconsin was more satisfactory than that 
from Maryland. Dan was touched. He filled his letters with ex- 
pressions of appreciation. "I think of your genuine fatherly in- 
terest in doing as much for me as you would for your own 

And so he stayed on in Chicago, though on an unsatisfactory 
precarious footing. Each month brought its board bill and with 
it the ordeal of making another appeal for funds. If there were 
wash bills, it was necessary to ask for a little extra change. Any 
delay seemed to produce agonies of guilt in the hypersensitive self- 
conscious boarder. "My board I want to pay for as soon as con- 
venient to you. They have not said anything about it, but I know 
they think." 

School itself, when Dan could concentrate on it, was all that 
could be desired, a dream come true. "Everything is going along 
nicely and we all bid fair to progress in our studies" such was 
the prim report. And again: "I am making fair progress, I think. 
It is hard work and much study, but I am up in the front rank 
and keep neck and neck with the leaders." 

Dan's curriculum that first year was formidable: descriptive 
anatomy, physiology, histology, materia medica and general 
chemistry. There was no clinical work before the second year. 
Meanwhile Dan attended three lectures a day and burned the gas 
far into the night. 

Of the original Chicago Medical faculty, five men remained 
on the staff of thirteen when Dan entered school. They were 
notable men, dedicated to their profession. Like other practi- 
tioners of their own youth, they still wore the distinctive garb 
of their calling, a long-tailed black broadcloth frock coat but- 
toned to the chin over a standing collar. They were never seen 
without it in classroom or at operating table. Rush professors 
relented so far as to wear turned-down collars, but Chicago Med- 
ical faculty stuck to formality and discomfort. Dean Davis and 
James S. Jewell, Professor of Nervous and Mental Diseases, wore 
full evening dress all day long. 

Despite this formality of attire, Dan soon found these men were 

34 Daniel Hale Williams 

warmly interested in their students. He forgot the fears and shy- 
ness of that first day and relaxed into the easy naturalness of his 
Janesville days. Pember and Mills and new friends too dropped 
in at Mrs. Jones's to study and discuss and argue in Dan's comfort- 
able heated room. 

In materia medica, Dan sat under William E. Quine, the little 
giant with the high-pitched voice. Quine hammered away con- 
tinually at his thesis that materia medica overshadowed every 
other subject in importance. So persuasive was he, or so effective 
were the oratorical fireworks he brought to bear, that his classes 
would terminate the hour with vociferous applause. The thunder 
followed him as he entered his carriage. 

Anatomy was Dan's favorite subject. He was fortunate to study 
it under the tutelage of Robert Laughlin Rea whose equal as a 
teacher of descriptive human anatomy perhaps never has stood 
before a medical class. Rea was new at Chicago Medical that 
year. He had a passion for order and for punctiliousness, and was 
never late for a class. Dan learned to take his seat well before the 
scheduled time. Professor Rea always came early. He would pace 
the narrow limits of the waiting room and, at the last stroke of 
the bell, stand before his class, a majestic figure, over six feet tall, 
with burning eyes deep set under a classic brow, a man aglow with 
the fires of his own enthusiasm. There would be a moment of 
dignified silence, then Rea would begin his fascinating discourse. 
Unlike Quine, no rhetorical embellishment, no oratorical effort 
dimmed the lucidity of Rea's presentations. He had no use for 
anecdote and innuendo, neither time nor tolerance for humor. Al- 
ways he kept the unadorned subject before his students. 

If the didactic method of teaching anatomy has since become 
largely obsolete, it was a method, nevertheless, that the older 
generation could use with masterly effect. Rea, in the united 
opinion of his contemporaries, was one of the most masterly of 
his time. "For the sluggish student he was a kindly goad, for the 
dishonest and indifferent student a walking terror, for those of 
better endowment and studious bent a flaming inspiration." Dan 


caught fire at once. He made Rea his pattern, even to his dress 
and manner of speech, and never relinquished his ideal afterwards. 

While Dan had to study physiology without benefit of labora- 
tory work, in histology he had the help of a newly enlarged 
microscopic laboratory, recently refitted with excellent micro- 
scopes. The practical usefulness of that instrument was just be- 
ginning to be appreciated. The great Christian Fenger, newly 
come to Chicago from Denmark, was making pathology the 
fashion, though bacteriology was not yet taught. Men continued 
for a long time, however, to pontificate from the naked-eye 
appearance of a specimen. 

It can be said with some justice that at a time when even a 
clinical thermometer was still a curiosity and had to be read be- 
fore it was removed from the mouth, men had a certain right to 
pride themselves upon a diagnostic judgment empirically acquired. 
The Palmers could tell body temperature by dryness or mois- 
ture of the skin, by respiration, appearance of the pupils of the 
eye, and more particularly by some sixth sense born of long ex- 
perience. They learned by close observation the significance of 
a change of pulse, an expression of the face, and the movements 
of the hands. Observation of the mouth showed them signposts 
of diseases of wide variety and location. The limitations of early 
science had forced the development of medicine as an art and 
there were its gifted exponents who gave their patients something 
more than sympathy and moral support after a long cold buggy 
ride. Dan and his fellow students were a bit inclined to belittle 
this fact as they excitedly embraced the new laboratory and the 
new instruments. 

After a while a hint of homesickness crept into Dan's letters 
to Janesville. "How much company are you going to have Christ- 
mas?" he asked. Within a few days he was writing again: "When 
Christmas comes, I should like to come home. Are you to have 
company Christmas?" 

Halfway through December, after a lonely Sunday afternoon, 

36 Daniel Hale Williams 

Dan again wrote Anderson. Instead of his usual casual pencil, 
he took up pen and with it put an extra formality into his open- 
ing. "C. H. A., Dear Sir," he wrote, "I was sitting down this after- 
noon thinking about the approach of Christmas and matters in 
general and concluded that I would write you today as there is 
only one more Sunday before I be Home." Gathering his courage 
he approached his point. "I want to ask you," he said, "that when 
you send me, would you send me a few dollars extra. You know 
I do not -spend one dollar foolishly. What I want with it is to 
buy a few little trinkets. The folks all give me something and I 
want to have a little something to give them. I would rather that 
they would not give me anything, but you know I can't control 
that. I don't want you to think I am fooling your money away. 
I think you will understand me and my situation." 

It was not an easy letter for the proud Dan Williams to write, 
but it would not have been easy to go home empty-handed either. 
Having got it down on paper, he restored his self-respect by 
adding: "I have made splendid progress so far this winter and feel 
that I am twice the man I was one year ago. ... I have a nibble 
of a chance to a position in Cook County Hospital. With Respect 
and Gratitude, I am Yours Truly, D. W. H." 

Back from Janesville after the holidays, the Cook County Hos- 
pital job failed to materialize and Dan's financial situation became 
even worse than it had been. Anderson was shorthanded in the 
barbershop, his income was cut, and he did not send any money 
for a couple of months. The board bill went unpaid and Dan dared 
not have any washing done. When finally some money came from 
Anderson he admitted that "I have not had but a tencent piece 
since I came back. I kept that ten cents and if any one would 
say money, I would show it up." 

Being able to pay the board bill lifted Dan's spirits enormously 
and he could end his letter on an unwontedly lighthearted note: 
"I hear you travel," he said, "to Baraboo with 'The Great Light 
Guard Quadrille Orchestra Colored Band.' How does Severance 
[one of Anderson's competitors] like that? I must go to study. 


Good night, love and health." After which sudden warm note, he 
took his usual formal leave with "Yours Truly, D. H. W." 

Late in November one of the internes on his rounds in the 
Mercy Home, behind the hospital and connected with it by a 
corridor, had discovered a suspicious case of illness. It proved to 
be smallpox. Chicago, just over a scourge of 20,000 typhoid fever 
cases, was plunged into an epidemic of smallpox that lasted all 
winter. Although Jenner had discovered the principles of vaccina- 
tion over eighty years before, the practice was still far from es- 
tablished. Soon the city pesthouse was crowded beyond capacity. 
The Health Department consented to the opening of an extra 
quarantine ward in the attic of Mercy Hospital, and even that 
overflowed. As the weeks passed, more than a hundred patients 
at a time were within the walls where the college students passed 
daily. Patients who entered for other ailments contracted the 
disease and died. 

Dan was forced to take to his bed the middle of March. To 
make matters worse, it was final examination week. He stayed 
in bed a few days and then sent for Dr. Marcus Hatfield, his 
friendly chemistry professor. Hatfield said the case looked sus- 
picious; he thought he could tell for certain by the next day. 

As he lay waiting the verdict, Dan unburdened himself in a 
long letter to Anderson. He owed a month's board, 60 cents at 
the college, and $2.80 he had borrowed. He had looked forward 
to earning a goodly sum during the vacation months and had 
applied for a job in Springfield, Illinois, where he might expect 
to earn as much as $75 a month, with passes there and return. But 
dared he take such a job in his present state of health? "I am a 
little anxious about my condition, though I'm not scared," he 
confided to Anderson. Fortunately before he mailed the letter on 
Monday he was able to add a postscript saying Hatfield had de- 
cided that what he had was varioloid. He was immensely relieved. 
He could say now, "I was pretty well scared yesterday, I thought 
my time had come. I want to get away for a rest." 

Immediately letters came back from both Harry Anderson and 

38 Daniel Hale Williams 

Traviata warm affectionate letters full of hospitality and eager- 
ness to see him. They had missed him every bit as much as he 
had missed them, and they would not hear of his going to Spring- 

Dan was overcome by this combined tenderness of father and 
daughter. He huddled in his room and penned his foster father 
a shaking, distorted, blotted letter: 

"My dear Friend, Just as was leaving the house your welcome, 
kind and fatherly letter was handed to me. Childish as it may seem 
to you I had to spend my morning lecture hour in quiet to my self 
and gratitude to you. ... I will do as I promised. I will not re- 
main the summer in Springfield. ... It seems like a burden for 
me to remain with you. It seems like imposing on your good heart 
and kindness to me." At the end of the letter he added: "Aunt 
Charlotte is dead and bad news comes from the east, which how- 
ever does not disturb Yours Most Gratefully and Respectfully, 
D. H. Williams." 

The bad news from the East was that he would never get any 
of his inheritance. The home place was sold, but it was found that 
Sarah had mortgaged it to the hilt. Every cent of the sales price 
would have to go to pay off the debts she had contracted through 
the years. The patrimony of the Prices, built up through the 
generations and held intact for the sake of the children, was now 

Somehow Dan struggled through his examinations. While he 
managed to pass every subject, he did so with no more than a 
low average grade, he who had started out neck and neck 'with 
the leaders. He found little comfort in the fact that twenty per 
cent of his class failed altogether. 

As he slowly regained his strength that summer in Janesville, 
aided by Ellen Anderson's gentle mothering and Dr. Palmer's 
medicines, Dan must have felt discouraged. The six months in 
Chicago had cost so much in so many ways, and he had so little 
to show for it. Perhaps in dark moments he thought of his 
brother Price, stocky, robust, self-assured, so patently successful 
in all he attempted. Recently Price had added two newspaper 


ventures to his legal work, putting out The Pilot in Philadelphia 
and, with the future Congressman Louis B. Anderson, The Star 
in Washington. But by fall Dan was in better health and more 
optimistic. The only indications of his recent illness 'were a 
couple of varioloid pockmarks on his handsome nose. 


The Barber Becomes a Doctor 

DAN had become so much a member of the Jones household he 
returned there as a matter of course his second year. Mrs. Jones 
saw that he had his favorite milk toast. He repaired her green- 
shaded lamp. On the way from classes he would pick up young 
Theodora at her school and see that she got home safely. 

A second-year man came back with a certain ease born of 
familiarity with the college and its ways. Dan had twice as much 
vigor to put into his work. His middle-year program included 
general pathology and pathological anatomy under the professor- 
ship of the scholarly John H. Hollister, one of the original faculty. 
Professor Hollister taught a Bible class at Plymouth Church on 
Sundays and proved his religion was genuine by showing char- 
itableness to all races, creeds and nationalities on weekdays. Dan 
liked him, liked his ample figure, pleasant face and hearty voice. 
The fact that he wore his hair almost as long as he wore his beard 
was an old-fashioned peccadillo you accepted with a tolerance 
born of affection. 

In therapeutics and hygiene Dan again had William E. Quine; 
in nervous and mental diseases, James S. Jewell of the flapping 
black coattails; and in medical chemistry and medical jurispru- 
dence, his old friend and personal physician, Marcus Hatfield. 
Some students did not like Hatfield, but Dan got on well with 
him. To complete his program, Dan was concluding anatomy with 


Robert Laughlin Rea, and he was fortunate to do so, for Rea 
would leave Chicago Medical the next year. 

The great excitement of middle year, however, was launching 
into clinical work. "This is the essence of instruction," he wrote 
Anderson, ". . . any amount of bedside instruction and practical 
teaching." In small groups of a half dozen, the students alternated 
between the wards of Mercy Hospital and the South Side Dispen- 
sary in the basement of the college building. Altogether they 
spent two weeks in each of the eight dispensary departments. 
Sometimes a patient mistakenly called a student "Doctor" and 
the appellation would be so pleasant the temptation was not to 
correct the error. 

During the year Chicago Medical acquired additional clinical 
privileges at St. Luke's Hospital. St. Luke's was small and 
crowded, but its location in Hell's Half Acre brought it numer- 
ous accident cases, useful for observation. Clinics for eye and 
ear diseases were instituted at the Illinois Charitable Eye and Ear 
Infirmary. These were important aids to the program since the 
politics-ridden Cook County Hospital had again frivolously closed 
its wards to class teaching. 

The most engrossing were the surgical clinics held Tuesdays 
and Saturdays at two. Edmund Andrews, another of the original 
faculty and next to Dean Davis in importance, was in charge. 
Andrews discussed problems with his students as simply and 
directly as though they were his peers. Dan was tremendously 
stimulated by the man, as were they all. When his great hulking 
figure shuffled into the amphitheater at Mercy Hospital, the room 
burst into applause. Everything about him was big his frame, 
his bewhiskered head, his kindly blue eyes, his generous mouth. 
Now in his middle fifties, Andrews was insisting upon experi- 
menting with the new antiseptic surgery. 

Fortunately for Dan, modern surgery came in during his col- 
lege days. Before he came to Chicago there had been little variety 
in surgery outside of accident cases and drainage of infections. 
Superficial tumors and cysts were removed. Sometimes an emer- 
gency stomach operation was performed as a last resort when a 

42 Daniel Hale Williams 

gastric ulcer perforated or the pylorus was obstructed. A strangu- 
lated hernia would bring about a similar attempt. Only very rarely 
was there a surgical approach to the gall bladder, the liver, spleen 
or kidney. Tuberculous glands were sometimes attacked. Liga- 
tion of diseased veins and arteries was fairly common. While 
Ephraim McDowell had removed an ovarian cyst with success 
some decades earlier, few had been bold enough to repeat that 
attempt in extremis* And rightly so. Every entry into the abdom- 
inal cavity brought almost inevitable infection and the patient's 
survival depended upon his ability to throw it off. Students who 
were graduated in the year Dan had entered Chicago Medical had 
seen six abdominal operations in the course of their three years 
and every patient had died. 

But in one year's time a revolution had taken place. The theories 
of the English Quaker, Joseph Lister, had reached Chicago. Dan 
and his classmates never forgot the first operation they attended. 
A Mercy Hospital nun sat at a high table at the end of the room 
manipulating the new carbolic steam spray and filling the place 
with a benumbing, asphyxiating cloud that rendered the occu- 
pants and everything else all but invisible. Although the patient 
had been anesthetized before she was wheeled in, ether continued 
to be freely administered it seemed in almost equal quantities to 
the students and patient alike. 

Dan was soaked to the skin. His eyes smarted and he breathed 
with difficulty. But everyone else was in the same condition; they 
must bear it like heroes. This was the only way, Lister said, to 
ward off the microbes that filled the air. Dan strained forward 
to watch what was going on. He could see disappointingly little. 
The mountainous figure of Dr. Andrews and his chief assistant 
were moving about enveloped in big oiled-silk aprons over their 
frock coats. Everyone else, the anesthetist, the spongers, the order- 
lies, the visitors, all wore ordinary street clothes. Small tables held 
a basin of sea sponges in carbolic solution, pans of instruments, a 
small basin of silk ligatures. No longer were ligatures conven- 
iently worn in the operator's buttonhole to be pulled out as 


Andrews used carbolic solution lavishly in preparing the site 
of the operation, then consulted freely with his assistants and 
visitors as to the best place to make the incision and how deep 
to make it. These were responsibilities surgeons were glad to 
share when everyone, even the best of them, was just learning. 
At long last the wound was closed, more carbolic solution was 
administered and dressings soaked in carbolic solution were ap- 
plied. The patient was wheeled away. Dan was glad to get out 
into the air. 

The question was, Would pus develop in the wound? Already 
during the past few months Chicago Medical staff had had sev- 
eral successes in achieving healing "by first intention," without 
any of the usual suppuration. But they could not count on it. 
Every operation was an experiment. Elaborate routines were 
adopted, only to be dropped for something that might prove 
better. All over the city and all over the country, thinking men 
were questioning old methods and searching out new ones. 

A stumbling block to progress at first was the failure to see 
the danger of infection by contact while attempting valiantly 
to keep out infection by air. All the time trouble was being invited 
by unsterilized hands, instruments and clothing. When the 
presence of bacteria on everything was finally recognized, a fran- 
tic search began for methods of sterilization by solutions. Car- 
bolic solutions and bichloride of mercury were tried and even- 
tually given up for the less irritating normal salt and boric acid 

The difference between esthetic and antiseptic cleanliness was 
hard for the old-time operator to grasp. Only slowly was the 
marine sponge relinquished for gauze sponges. A surgeon would 
dip his hands in an antiseptic solution preparatory to examining 
or operating and then touch his face, rub his nose thoughtlessly 
or even shake hands with a visiting colleague who of course came 
into the room t just as he was. It became the duty of the interne 
to remind him after each such dereliction to "please disinfect your 
hands, sir." 

Nor did the visiting colleague take kindly to being refused 

44 Daniel Hale Williams 

the customary privilege of poking an exploratory finger, un~ 
sterilized, into the wound. Old-timers had washed their hands 
after the operation, not before. And it was hard not to lift the 
dressings and peek at the incision to see how things were going. 
Lister had expressly ordered that "as long as there is no fever or 
hemorrhage, leave the dressings undisturbed." Most operators 
were not certain enough to follow this advice more than part way. 

But Andrews stubbornly persisted, trying one technique after 
another. Slowly his successes grew more numerous, as did those 
of others. Temperatures remained normal, wounds remained dry, 
and when, after the proper interval, stitches were removed, even 
they were found to be free of any pus whatever. Almost any 
operation might be attempted now. Exciting vistas opened to 
faculty and students alike. Dan and his fellows walked in an at- 
mosphere surcharged with wonder, possibility, and violent diff er- 
ences of opinion. Bitter controversy raged in classrooms and cor- 
ridors and spilled over into rooming houses. 

Dan had returned to college with no better financial arrange- 
ment than to call on Harry Anderson from time to time for 
amounts of ten and fifteen dollars. Each time the sum was ex- 
hausted he had to go through the painful process of asking for 
another amount, "You will not think hard of me," he would plead, 
"you know I do not wast a penny." Frequently the money was 
tardy in arriving. Anderson had invested in a road show, Escaped 
from Slavery, and in a touring organization called the Nashville 
Colored Church Choir. These were taking all his spare cash. He 
became more disposed to question every item. 

Dan had to wait to start his precious clinical instruction while 
letters passed back and forth and he impatiently tried to explain 
what the "hospital ticket" was and why he had to pay six dollars 
to get it. Then Anderson felt Dan need not buy medical books, 
he could borrow them. Dr. Palmer had provided books for his 
apprentices, why should not the Chicago doctors do the same? 
Finally Anderson sent the money and Dan was grateful "You 
are the only true friend I have," he wrote. 


Dan wanted Anderson to come up to Chicago for the spring 
festival, but Anderson did not get there. "It was too rich," wrote 
the growing sophisticate, "for most of them to understand." 
Other Janesville visitors made Dan homesick. "When I went to 
the train with Henry Doty friday P.M. I felt as though I'd like to 
go home with him, but I knew I could not." Traviata and her 
friend, Alice Smith of Oconomowoc, an exotic girl with Indian 
tresses, also spent some time in Chicago. Alice had a fascination, 
Dan admitted to himself and to Alice's sister years later that 
the exuberant 'Viata, for all her warmth, lacked. He invited 
his college friends to meet the two and entertained for them at 
tea at Mrs. Jones's home. The girls were a great success. " 'Viata is 
enjoying her visit very much I imagine," Dan wrote her father, 
"she has every attention shown her." Dan felt no pique, only 
complacency, at seeing 'Viata surrounded by suitors. He was as 
proud of her as any brother would be. Later when the Andersons 
did come to Chicago for a visit, Mrs. Jones enjoyed Ellen's gay 
Irish wit and remarked how fond Dan was of his little namesake, 

When his middle year ended, and it did so with better grades 
than his first year, Dan decided to stay on in Chicago for the 
spring and summer to gain some experience in Mercy Hospital. 
Ordinarily he would have had to wait until his senior year for 
any chance at ward duty. But the overburdened senior internes 
sometimes relinquished part of their work to students, and Dan 
and Frank Pember had been quick to snatch so fruitful an oppor- 

Dan arranged with Mrs. Jones to care for her horse and buggy 
in payment of his board during this time. When he wrote Ander- 
son these plans, Anderson, always in need of a barber and feeling 
somewhat ill used, did not answer. He did not reply to a second 
letter either, and Dan tried a third time to explain why he must 
seize upon this opening. 

"I have though^ it best," he wrote, with more fluency and bet- 
ter spelling than were once his to command, "for me to remain 

46 Daniel Hale Williams 

here as long as I can. I can learn and see more in one week than 
I could in Janesville in six months." 

"You know," he added, with growing wisdom, "talk and suc- 
cess are widely different. Men may talk what they can and will 
do, but it takes knowledge and experience to accomplish much. 
I might stay in Janesville in Dr. Palmer's office ten years and 
never see a case of childbirth. Here I can see ten to twenty cases 
a week and have charge of all in Mercy Hospital if I will attend 
them." Honesty compelled him to modify this exaggeration and 
he added: "Frank Pember and I attend them between us." His 
effort to persuade Anderson made him say: "I have chances in 
operative surgery every week, doing some operation." What if 
the "operation" were only lancing an abscess? It meant handling 
a knife and involved dressings. Dan gave the affair all the glamour 
he could. 

"We have hospitals," he told Anderson, and "Post Mortem ex- 
aminations to keep our attention on our life work. In Janesville, 
when they did have post mortem examinations, it was only a few 
could come in. Down here we all go to Dead house where there 
assemble from fifty to one hundred doctors and everything is 
opened before us and understood." 

Carried away perhaps by his own eloquence, Dan allowed a 
slightly patronizing tone to creep into his letter: "You will not 
probably recognize the scope of a physician, but you must know 
that where there are more sick and dead there is better field for 
investigation and study." 

But at heart Dan was deeply loyal to Ms old friends. He added, 
"I want to come up some time in June and stay a few days at 
least. . . . How is George getting? I shall hope to hear from you 
Soon. Regards to all." 

The summer was long and hot and the Mercy Hospital obstet- 
rics ward always full. Dan and Pember learned to work almost 
continuously through the lengthy nights. They did not complain, 
for here were the riches of experience, free for.the taking. Some- 
times, however, they were embarrassed when a private watchman 


from nearby Millionaire Row would appear and object that 
through the open windows of the maternity ward their patients 
were disturbing the peace of Prairie Avenue with their cries and 

In the fall Dan again needed a weekly sum for room and board. 
Unfortunately, when he wrote to Anderson expecting the old 
arrangement to continue, Anderson said he had no ready cash to 
loan. Couldn't Dan continue to work for Mrs. Jones and get 
along? But Dan had already relinquished his stable job in anticipa- 
tion of term opening and Mrs. Jones had hired a boy to take his 
place. He was panic-stricken. He must not be stopped now, with 
his goal so near. 

With that same desperation with which as a boy he had 
wrenched himself out of shoemaking, and as a youth had flung 
off barbering, Dan now clutched at medicine. He wrote Ander- 
son with some assertiveness. "I received your letter. I know when 
a man is not making money it is hard to spend it. No one realizes 
your position more than I do." But there was no real difficulty, 
he went on to say. Why could Anderson, with his "unlimited 
credit," not borrow the money to loan him? "It is going to take 
comparatively little to take me through," he argued, "not more 
than $150.00. . . . You can't but see that the current will be in 
your direction before many months." 

"It is my final struggle for an education," he cried, "and while I 
am at work I can't spare the time to go seek here and there for 
money to pay my living expenses." It was a tone he should have 
used long ago with his mother. Failing that, he used it now with 
his foster parent. "It is not pleasant for me," he said, "any more 
than it is for you. I hate to ask you for it, but what am I to do? 
... If you were giving this money, it would be different. You 
are not. You will get your money back and interest thereon. I 
shall await to hear from you." 

Anderson did not fail him and Dan stayed on in school. 

As Dan had progressed in his training, Chicago Medical had 
grown. Six professors had been added to the faculty, making the 

48 Daniel Hale Williams 

total nineteen in Dan's last year. Among them was Oscar DeWolf 
for a course in Public Health. DeWolf, Chicago's first health 
commissioner, was determined to rid the city of its filth the city 
which "has her wash-pot, her chamber-pot and her drinking cup 
in the great lake at her feet." E. C. Dudley came that year too and 
Dan profited in his course in gynecology then such a fast- 
developing field by Dudley's curiosity, his daring and with it 
all his careful weighing of evidence. 

But Dan's greatest stroke of luck was the acquisition of the 
noted Danish scientist Christian Fenger. It was too late for Dan 
to take his pathology course, but he attended Fenger's lectures 
and sat in his clinics. Looking back, men said it was from the 
coming of Fenger that Chicago slowly but surely developed as 
an important medical center. There were plenty, however, in 
1882 who mocked this apostle from the great European clinics, 
carrying his homely green carpetbag with the initials embroidered 
by his sister. But there were others, Dan among them, who wor- 
shiped him, absorbed his wisdom, and in their turn made medical 
history because they had known him. 

Shortly before the end of their last term, the seniors went 
through the ordeal of competing for the few interneships avail- 
able. Frank Pember won a place at Mercy, but Dan, like the ma- 
jority, was not successful. Fortunately he had already worked as 
a volunteer in the Mercy Hospital wards. 

Finally the last week in March, 1883 rolled around and with it 
Commencement Day. Exercises had outgrown the Plymouth 
Church and this year were held in the Grand Opera House down- 
town. Solemnly the three dozen men followed the faculty down 
the aisle, Dan among them, sporting a new-grown full beard 
trimmed exactly like that of his first-year anatomy professor, 
Robert Laughlin Rea. Dan must have wished his father could see 
him, that his mother were present. 

The program unfolded, pleasantly interspersed with music. 
The secretary read a long report of the year's work and then the 
prizes were announced, sixteen in all, but neither Dan nor Pem- 
ber won one. Mills carried off a prize for general excellence, as 


befitted one -who had entered medical college with an A.B. degree. 
One of the prize winners read the valedictory and then the presi- 
dent of Northwestern University handed out the ribbon-tied di- 
plomas, conferring on each man as he did so the proud new 

Doctor Daniel Hale Williams! Daniel Hale Williams, M.D. As 
he walked down the aisle, phrases of the Hippocratic Oath per- 
haps flashed through Dan's mind: ". . . to reckon him who taught 
me this Art equally dear to me as my parents ... by precept, 
lecture and every other mode of instruction I will impart a knowl- 
edge of the Art to my own sons . . . and to disciples . . . may it 
be granted to me to enjoy life and the practice of the Art, re- 
spected by all men, in all times." 


Operating In a Dining Room 

AS soon as Dan's diploma was in his hand, he applied for a license 
to practice in the District of Columbia. Apparently his one 
thought was to return to his mother, now that his success would 
ensure her welcome. 

But when the license came, he found that the nebulous, un- 
realized ties of family did not pull him half as much as the ties 
he had made in Chicago. He was twenty-seven and he had a life 
of his own. He made another application, this time for an Illinois 

The new-fledged Dr. Daniel Hale Williams began his practice 
of medicine in a time of economic depression amounting to panic. 
It was tough going, but there was something to be said for start- 
ing out in a big place. His friend William E. Morgan, graduate of 
the Class of '82, had first set up an office in his home town, Madi- 
son, Wisconsin. In three months he saw not one patient. He had 
in the end come back to Chicago and opened an office at State 
and 32nd Streets. Another good friend, Frank Billings, '81, was at 
3 ist and State. Dan found a small suite not far from his colleagues, 
at 3ist Street and Michigan Avenue, on the northwest corner, 
3034 Michigan Avenue. The neighborhood was well-to-do, as 
much white as colored, and white doctors had the adjoining 

When Dan opened his office, there was no Black Belt. The 


Negro population numbered around 10,000 and colored families 
were scattered through white areas. White people knew colored 
people at first hand, recognized their individual differences and 
did not have the common disposition born of separation to re- 
gard all Negroes as alike and the likeness one of inferiority, mental 
and moral. Since the neighborhood was well-to-do, the colored 
people in it were well-to-do too. They were also mostly of mixed 
blood, since these were the Negroes who had been the earliest to 
attain freedom and to establish themselves. In such a neighbor- 
hood Dan from the first drew his patients from both races. 

Two colored physicians had practiced in Chicago before the 
Civil War and before licensing was required. When Dan started, 
there were three colored doctors, two of them with the less 
highly regarded Eclectic diploma. All three had their offices in 
other neighborhoods and none of them was his competitor. 

Dan continued his professional contacts with the men he had 
known in his student days. Professor Marcus Hatfield, looking 
toward his retirement as staff physician of the Protestant Orphan 
Asylum, secured Dan an appointment as attending physician. The 
orphanage was only nine blocks north of Dan's office on Michi- 
gan Avenue. While the job was unpaid and rather trying, espe- 
cially when all 250 children came down at once with measles, still 
it offered experience and prestige. 

Dan's office hours were 9 to 10 every morning, 3:30 to 5 in the 
afternoons, and 7 to 8 in the evenings. Home calls and orphanage 
calls had to be sandwiched in between. But he was used to hard 
work and he was happy. He had entered upon a distinguished pro- 
fession and he had status, though it was only the status of a be- 

Among his earliest private patients were the personal friends 
he had made in Mrs. Jones's home. A young untried man is not 
always acceptable in a professional capacity to those who have 
long known him, at least not until he has proved himself. But Dan 
could have no better sponsor than John Jones's widow, and she 
continued to be his sponsor even when he felt he should assume 
a more independent position and took a room on Boston Place 

52 Daniel Hale Williams 

near Halsted. Mrs. Jones was inordinately proud of him. His 
parted chin whiskers, she insisted, were just like John Brown's. 
And she added, with an old lady's plain-spokenness, "Dan sits on 
more brains than other men have in their heads." Everyone knew 
that she chose Dan to be Thedy's godfather when the child was 
taken to St. Thomas's African Episcopal Church for baptism. 
After that event, if for no other reason, Dan's position was 

Julia LeBeau was organist and choir leader of St. Thomas's. 
When her mother fell ill, she called Dr. Williams, even though 
he was but a few months out of medical school. The diagnosis 
was uncomplicated; it was hemorrhoids. But the patient demurred 
when Dan told her they must be cut out. 

"I won't go to a hospital," she declared flatly. Dan bowed to 
her dictum readily enough. Few hospitals in the city had accom- 
modations that would appeal to the private patient, and times 
were scarcely past when to go to the hospital was to go to the 

"I'll do it right here," Dan assured his patient. "We'll take down 
the lace curtains and scrub everything, walls as well as floors. 
Julia can help me." 

Scrub her home! The proud old lady bristled at the imputation 
her house was not already immaculate. Dan had his hands full, 
explaining and placating. Finally he won her over and a time was 

Dan neglected nothing to make Mrs. LeBeau's dining room as 
antiseptic as possible. He scrubbed and fumigated and sprayed 
valiantly. The wash boiler on the kitchen stove was his sterilizer, 
the kitchen pans his receptacles for sponges and instruments. He 
gave the anesthetic himself and then excised the hemorrhoids as 
quickly and deftly as could be. The old lady's recovery was 
prompt, her new comfort magical. She told all her friends what 
a smart fellow her doctor was and they at once took note of his 

Those who had known him as Dan could not call him Dr. Wil- 
liams. They compromised with "Dr. Dan." This title of aifection 


coupled with respect clung as his practice widened and all and 
sundry knew him as Dr. Dan. Patients who came to him once sel- 
dom left him. He who had suffered so much himself was very 
gentle with those who came seeking his aid. Patients felt the 
sincerity of his interest in them and they were warmed by it. 
They liked his dignity, too, his well-proportioned figure he 
was about five feet eight his immaculate grooming, his alert, 
handsome face. They liked his air of certainty; they could see at 
once that he knew his business. The day came when patients 
packed the little waiting room at 3034 Michigan Avenue. 

All the time Dan was doing more and more surgery. Surgeons 
developed those days as cases were thrust upon them by self- 
evident diagnosis. A man either had to shirk a case and decline the 
responsibility or accept it. If he accepted it, he then had to nerve 
himself to tackle it and do his best, learning his techniques as he 
operated; there was no other way. 

His friends, Frank Billings and Franklin Martin and others, 
were doing as Dan was doing, operating in private homes, in 
kitchens and dining rooms. Billings went into the slums and ampu- 
tated a tubercular leg. There were so few hospitals in Chicago 
and all were as tightly organized as a personal club. Staffs were 
small and they did not welcome newcomers. The younger men 
usually chose Sunday mornings for their home forays into sur- 
gery. Friends served each other as anesthetists and orderlies and 
suppliers of moral support. 

Dr. Dan was more fortunate than some. He found an oppor- 
tunity to perform minor operations regularly by securing an ap- 
pointment to the surgical staff of the South Side Dispensary. As 
he operated he gave clinical instruction to Chicago Medical stu- 
dents. He also served as one of the demonstrators of anatomy. 

Teaching was not easy in a day when medical students were 
much given to bantering, to stealing fingers, toes and sometimes 
even a whole hand from the dissecting table to be dropped into 
the pocket of some unsuspecting freshman. Dan's seriousness 
would have been an invitation to horseplay, but his enthusiasm 
carried students along. They found themselves caught up despite 

54 Daniel Hale Williams 

themselves. His good judgment and shrewd diagnoses won their 
respect and they recognized his ability was above that of the 
usual dispensary instructor. He who had found it so hard to ex- 
press himself now used an excellent vocabulary, and his voice, 
rather penetrating, with an individual timbre, the timbre of a 
singer, attracted and held attention. He enjoyed his teaching and 
his students enjoyed him among them Charlie Mayo and, later, 
Coleman Buf ord and Andy Hall. 

Dr. Dan followed every lead. He got a job as surgeon to the 
City Railway Company, where E. Wyllys Andrews, son of his 
former professor in surgery, served in a similar capacity. Young 
Andrews was in the courtroom one day when Dan had to appear 
as an expert witness in an accident case. Coming out of the court- 
room afterward, Andrews patted his colleague on the back and 
told him he certainly had his data well in hand; even the judge 
could understand it! 

The name of Dr. Daniel H. Williams appeared frequently now 
in the Negro newspaper, the Conservator. He was attending this 
case or that one, or he was a guest here or a guest there. The 
handsome bachelor who was forging ahead so fast was noticed 
by thoughtful mothers with marriageable daughters. And the 
daughters and the sons and the young married couples flocked 
around him whenever his schedule permitted him to appear at a 

"Here's Dr. Dan!" they would cry and thrust a guitar into his 
hand. Dan, with every vestige of self-consciousness cleared away 
in this sunshine of popularity, would put a well-polished shoe up 
on whatever was handy, the nickel fender of the parlor stove or a 
convenient hassock, rest the guitar on his knee, and sound forth 
in an acceptable tenor. Soon the whole room would be rollicking 
to his gay rhythms. 

During this time Dan kept up his letters to Harry Anderson, 
paying him back money as he could. These were sad times for 
the Anderson family. Soon after Dan's graduation, frail, loving 
Tessie had died at seventeen. A few months later her mother sud- 
denly and unaccountably died, too. The double blow left all of 


them benumbed, Dan included. Tessle had been a beloved younger 
sister and Ellen's warmth and gaiety and frequent subtle guidance 
had carried him along through the difficult years when the cour- 
age often oozed out of him. 

With Ellen gone, Harry Anderson could not bear to stay on in 
Janesville. His road shows were prospering and he moved his 
family to Chicago to an apartment at the corner of State and Van 
Buren. Traviata managed the household and mothered Alfred and 
Bertie while she continued her study with the internationally fa- 
mous organist, Clarence Eddy. One of the young singers in Ander- 
son's road show was Charles E. Bentley. He was a fine tenor and 
Dan had known him when he was a guest in the Anderson home 
in Janesville. Bentley continued to call on the Andersons in Chi- 
cago and soon proposed to 'Viata. She accepted him, and when 
they were married Bentley moved in with the family. He gave up 
singing and on funds supplied by Harry Anderson enrolled in the 
Chicago College of Dental Surgery. Anderson still had his heart 
set on seeing his Vytie the wife of a professional man. 

People asked Traviata why she had not married Dr. Dan. 
"Dan?" she replied with the greatest candor, "Why I couldn't 
marry Dan! He's just the same as a brother." 

As for Dan, he seemed relieved to have matters thus taken out 
of his hands. 'Viata would always occupy a big place in his heart, 
and he was pleased to see her happy. He liked Charles Bentley 
enormously; he was a keen, intelligent fellow, interesting to be 
with. Dan visited the Anderson-Bentley home constantly. 

Dan had a passion for friendship. Cut off from his family, he 
clung to his friends. Though he had spent but a short time in his 
boyhood at his grandmother's in Annapolis, he had never com- 
pletely lost touch with a friend he made then, and now, with 
money in his pocket, began to visit again. 

Hutchins Bishop came of a family as old as the Prices and like- 
wise of free, mixed blood. The Bishops lived on Church Circle, 
just across from the Prices. The two little boys in their brass- 
buttoned waist-length jackets and ankle-length baggy pantaloons 
had trudged off together to the Freedmen's Bureau school each 

56 Daniel Hale Williams 

morning, first pulling down hard on the visors of their kepi caps. 
There was always a gantlet of white hoodlums before you got 
there. But, hand in hand, head ducked down and shielded by a 
bent arm, the boys arrived with no more than an occasional 
bruise from a thrown rock. 

That handclasp had held across the miles and years. While Dan 
was learning to save bodies, Hutchins, as fair-skinned as Dan and 
equally imbued with a desire to help his race, was studying at the 
General Theological Seminary in New York, learning to save 
souls. He wanted to go back to Maryland to take a parish, but the 
Southern Episcopal Church would not accept a man of African 
descent for the Lord's service. Hutchins received ordination 
finally in Albany through the help of Dan's cousin, Sadie Wil- 
liams Topp, who succeeded in bringing the matter to the atten- 
tion of Bishop William Croswell Doane. 

At Hutchins's insistence, Dr. Dan made a flying visit to Albany, 
saw his chum ordained and then accompanied him to Charleston 
and served as best man at his wedding. Six years later Dr. Dan 
was appearing as godfather in St. Philip's, now his friend's charge 
in New York City, for Hutchins's second child, a son, whom he 
named Shelton Hale Bishop to honor the young doctor. This was 
Dr. Dan's third godchild and second namesake, Bertie Anderson 
being the first. But it was not the last, for soon he was standing 
godfather constantly for a stream of little Daniels and Hales who 
proudly bore a name that appeared more and more in the Negro 
press across the country. 

These trips East to see Hutchins turned out to be important to 
Dr. Dan. In Albany there was a considerable colored colony of 
wealth and culture families who had settled there in earliest 
times, intermarried with the Dutch and other white settlers, and 
later worked against slavery in those same Negro conventions in 
which the Williams clan had labored. Dr. Dan's cousin had 
married into the Topp family. Other names equally prominent 
were the Benjamins, the Van Vrankens, the Pauls, the Lattimores, 
the Blakes, the Olcotts, the Mathewses. 

There was a gay winter season in Albany and a gay summer 


season at Saratoga Springs. On one of his visits, Dr. Dan was 
dancing in a hotel at Saratoga Springs with the fair-skinned but 
nevertheless "Negro" Nina Pinchback, when officialdom asked 
them to leave the floor. Colored society all over the country was 
outraged. Nina Pinchback was the daughter of the honored 
P. B. S. Pinchback, lieutenant governor of Louisiana in Recon- 
struction days. What did freedom mean if a lieutenant governor's 
daughter could not dance where she chose? 

The incident probably did not bother Dr. Dan. Slights from 
white people were usual. But another blow came to him in Albany 
which did shatter him. Against blows from people of color, his 
mother's color against these, he showed again and again that 
he had no defense. 

Dr. Dan inevitably met in Albany Kittle May Blake, lovely 
daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Adam Blake. The Blake daughters 
were the belles of colored Albany. Bismark Pinchback, Nina's 
brother, was in love with one daughter. Dr. Dan fell head over 
heels in love with Kittie May. She was not only an exquisite girl 
with the fair skin and hair of her Dutch and Yankee ancestors and 
the charm and grace of her African forebears, but she had been 
most carefully nurtured. From childhood she had attended St. 
Agnes Convent School. Year after year she had been awarded the 
banner as the most beautiful girl in the white school. Bishop 
Doane, people said, "loved her like his own daughter." After a 
year's finishing in New York City she had been taken to Europe 
for a final round of polishing. These were the exterior things; her 
spirit was sweet and gentle, as lovely as the outer body that 
clothed it. 

Dan was carried headlong into an adoration that made him for- 
get himself completely, left him with all his defenses down. He 
no longer hesitatpd as he had with other girls, but exposed his 
heart in all its tender, quivering honesty. He left himself no loop- 
hole, no avenue of escape. He loved her, he told her, with all 
his being. Would she marry him? 

Kittie May answered with quiet dignity: Yes, she said, she 
would marry him. He was the ideal she had dreamed of, the 

58 Daniel Hale Williams 

Prince Charming she had hoped would come someday hand- 
some, tender, serious, gifted. Dr. Dan's heart must have swelled 
to the point of bursting. 

It was Mrs. Blake, nee Benjamin, who shattered the idyll. She 
had no intention of allowing her darling to marry a man identi- 
fied with colored people. Kittie May with her beauty and her 
wealth could marry anyone she chose and if Kittie May did not 
know where to choose, her mother would choose for her. 

If Kittie May had not been so gently nurtured, she might 
have had more spine; she might have stood up and demanded 
the right to live her own life. If Dr. Dan had been charged with 
anything but his race, he might have striven to change it. Poverty? 
He could win riches. Obscurity? He would win honor. But race? 
He could more easily cut off his right hand, his surgeon's hand, 
than deny his people. He could not imagine himself for a moment 
as anything but Negro, loyal to Negroes everywhere. 

If looks had been all, he could have passed to the white side 
long before. In his milieu there were those who did so every 
year someone whose elderly parents had died and who felt free 
to embrace an easier path; someone who was marrying across the 
line; someone with little children who wanted an easier life for 
them than colored children could hope for. They went to Mexico, 
Brazil, France or just to another state. While he sympathized with 
their reasons, Dr. Dan had only pity for those who "passed." It 
was a possibility he could not for a second entertain, even to win 
Kitty May. 

He went back to Chicago and threw himself into a passion of 

Kittie May dutifully married the white lawyer her parents 
selected for her. But from friends in Albany Dr. Dan learned that 
her brightness was quenched; she drooped and had little interest 
in life. 

Dr. Dan grimly worked on. Every hour he could snatch from 
his patients he spent in the anatomical laboratory, dissecting ca- 
davers. With sharp blade in supple fingers he attacked the inert 
flesh cutting, retaliating, reaching those inmost recesses as life 


had reached him, at the raw center, at the quick. Unconscious 
of the double motive that impelled him, glorying in his natural 
manual dexterity, fostered during those years in barbering, he 
must have found a release in the use of the knife at the same time 
that he found knowledge. 

People wondered why the steadily advancing young doctor 
whose practice had grown so well, who drove a horse worthy 
of Janesville's best traditions, who owned a four-story brick flat 
building on Dearborn Street, did not marry. Mothers with mar- 
riageable daughters hopefully set their caps for him. But though 
he was pleasant, courteous, and charming, he eluded them all. 

In September 1887, Dr. Dan decided to go to Washington to 
attend the International Medical Congress; he could at the same 
time have a short visit with his mother and sisters and look into 
their finances which, it seemed, were forever needing his assistance, 
although when he had needed theirs it had not been available. 

There had been no meeting of the world medical body since 
the one in Copenhagen in 1884 and the event was eagerly awaited 
by American doctors who would play host for the first time. Dr. 
Dan's old preceptor Henry Palmer was going and his former 
dean was secretary general of the Congress. Franklin Martin was 
to contribute to the gynecological section. Nicholas Senn of 
Milwaukee would read an important paper on intestinal surgery. 
With the work of these men Dr. Dan was already familiar. It was 
the others he especially wanted to hear. Mills had spent a summer 
in European hospitals, but Dr. Dan had not been able to go. Now 
Europe was coming here and he embraced the opportunity. 

The five days were packed with an exchange of ideas, discov- 
eries, theories. The strides being made everywhere under anti- 
sepsis, asepsis, and the new bacteriology were extremely stimu- 
lating sometimes to the point of irritation and bitterness when 
the new school lost patience with the old. 

Senn, Milwaukee's patient vivisectionist, argued for two hours 
that death from hemorrhage or septic peritonitis was not neces- 
sary if surgeons would only dare to operate on the abdomen. A 

60 Daniel Hale Williams 

buzz of excitement followed his paper. The vigorous-minded were 
elated. The cautious held back, making virtue of their "conserva- 
tism." The volatile John B. Murphy of Chicago was furious. If 
you waited as long as the "conservatives" demanded, you were 
performing a post mortem, not an operation. Anyone who did 
clean surgery could enter the abdomen any time for explora- 
tion and diagnosis as much as for any other reason. 

It was apparent the old days were not yet entirely gone. The 
discussion on the use of the Caesarean section revealed that of 153 
cases in the United States to date, only 56 had recovered. This 
long-known method of delivering a child when normal birth 
proved impossible was still called into use only as a last resort 
and usually too late. The representative from Bellevue Hospital 
Medical College, no convert to Listerism, felt that "when per- 
formed in a 'healthy locality' away from 'infected hospitals/ the 
technique had a fair measure of success." 

Dr. Dan saw that many old fogy notions still persisted. He was 
beginning to raise his head above the sea of textbook detail in 
which his timidity had once buried him. He would not be as 
cautious as many at the congress. He agreed with Murphy; it 
was not caution, it was cowardice. All you needed was knowl- 
edge. He returned to his dissecting. 

While Dr. Dan plugged away, change went on around him in 
the ever-growing city and in his circle of friends. The new "com- 
mercial" and "elevator" buildings shot up here and there simple, 
almost functional structures, ten stories high, frankly American, 
shorn of European pretense. The new plate glass was letting in 
light on Victorian stuffiness and many things were no longer 
the same. 

Nothing was more surprising than that George Anderson 
should suddenly throw off his lethargy and at thirty-five enter 
dental school. Or that Theodora Lee should appear one day a 
young lady of sixteen come to tell her godfather good-by 
before going off to Rockford College. Dr. Dan made her promise 
not to use face powder until she was at least eighteen. There 
would be a gift then, he assured her, if she kept her promise. 


Somehow Thedy expected at least a diamond ring for such a 
sacrifice and when Dr. Dan presented her instead with long- 
handled, pearl-inlaid opera glasses, Thedy was outraged. "He's 
always trying to improve me," she stormed to her mother. 

It did not occur to Dr. Dan that everyone was not as enchanted 
with opera as he was. Ever since the old Exposition Building had 
been converted into a vast playhouse for the presentation of opera 
in Chicago, he had found surcease there during such times of 
relaxation as he permitted himself. And when in December 1889 
the ambitious new rival Auditorium on Michigan Avenue was 
dedicated in the presence of the governor of the state and the 
President of the United States, Dr. Dan was among the first to 
secure a ticket. 

He had a double interest. Of course he wanted to hear Adelina 
Patti sing "Home, Sweet Home." And since it was Traviata's 
teacher, Clarence Eddy, who would play the organ, he wanted 
to hear him too. But piquancy was added to both events because 
Eddy, coming to the famed prima donna's rescue when her regular 
accompanist fell ill, had brought no one else than ' Viata to accom- 
pany the famous soprano on one or two occasions. It had been 
a great feather in their beloved Vytie's cap and all the Anderson- 
Bentley clan rejoiced, Dr. Dan with them. 

To walk down the street with Dr. Dan in the late 3 8os was to 
take inventory of the man's riches in popularity. He knew every- 
one's name, had a friendly word or question for all in short, he 
was the pleasantest person you could ever want to meet. Plain 
folk liked him; he isn't stuck up, they said, he's just Dr. Dan every 
time you see him. 

He was no longer the young man who had to be helped. Thanks 
to hard work, simple ways, and that same canny sense for real 
estate values of his Grandfather Price, he was now owner of sev- 
eral pieces of property and a substantial member of the com- 
munity, one to whom others turned for help and advice. Widows 
asked him how to invest their money, and young men how to 
get ahead. He encouraged men to venture, to learn skills that 
would be lifetime assets. 

62 Daniel Hale Williams 

"If yon don't aim at something," he told young James Gordon, 
"you may go hunting, but you'll come back without a thing." 
On Dr. Dan's urging, Gordon learned mechanics and later went 
into contract hauling of machinery. He stopped at Dr. Dan's 
office one day to tell him how he was getting along. The busy 
physician dropped everything and patted the tall thin fellow 
on the back. 

"So you've gone into business for yourself," Dr. Dan cried. 
"I told you so!" Gordon went out proud and full of courage. 

Dr. Dan was generous in support of all worthy Negro enter- 
prises. At a time when a mechanic earned $ i .75 a day and a woman 
cleaned floors all week for three dollars, people gasped with 
awe and delight to see their Dr. Dan put a five-dollar bill on the 
collection plate at Old Bethel. He attended no one church, but 
visited and helped to support them all. His own preference, when 
he followed it, was to attend All Souls Unitarian Church on Oak- 
wood Avenue and Langley Boulevard, where Jenkin Lloyd Jones, 
his Janesville friend and mentor, had come to be minister and 
where the congregation was forward-looking, and black and 
white sat side by side. 

When a vacancy occurred in the Illinois State Board of Health 
in the spring of 1889, Joseph W. Fifer, then governor and a 
Republican, appointed the promising Dr. Daniel Hale Williams 
of Chicago. Dr. Dan's membership in the powerful Hamilton 
Club, a Republican organization with few Negro members, but 
into which he probably came under the aegis of John Jones's 
name, undoubtedly helped secure his appointment. 

At that time the Illinois Board of Health, in existence but a 
dozen years, was making its way more tolerated than favored 
by a purse-tight legislature. It had on it, however, some consid- 
erable men. One was the patriarchal Newton Bateman, eminent 
author and educator, friend of Abraham Lincoln and now presi- 
dent of Knox College at Galesburg. Dr. W. A. Haskett of Alton 
was the Board's president. Its secretary, guiding spirit and en- 
thusiastic dynamo was Dr. John R. Rauch. Rauch envisaged public 
health on nothing less than a global scale. These men, leaders 


from other cities and some of them from other walks in life, were 
stimulating confreres to the rapidly developing Dr. Dan. 

Those were the days when devastating epidemics hit the popu- 
lation like a scourge of the Lord. Communities bowed helpless 
before the blast, buried their dead, and grimly waited for the fatal 
visitation to burn itself out. Diphtheria and scarlet fever came and 
went with the seasons. Typhoid struck whole families simulta- 
neously. Yellow fever broke out periodically in the lower Missis- 
sippi Valley, and frightened Illinois. Cholera and smallpox re- 
curred with each wave of immigration. Against such holocausts 
the only public health measures were to regulate drains, sewage 
and plumbing. The Board wrote many "Rules and Regulations" 
in Dr. Dan's day. It did not issue diphtheria antitoxin until^ two 
years after he left. 

Dr. Dan had studied public health under Oscar DeWolf, who, 
as Commissioner of Health in Chicago, had instituted the placard- 
ing of scarlet fever despite denouncement for "waste of cards 
and tacks." Dr. Dan had learned antisepsis, too, under Edmund 
Andrews. He had a vision of other means than sanitation to curb 
disease. Possibly other men on the Board, too, understood some- 
thing of the germ theory of disease. But the Board was limited 
as to funds, all members served without pay, and even the travel 
fund could not be stretched over more than four meetings a 
year, with an occasional special meeting at the time of some 
epidemic. The work of the Board, therefore, devolved largely 
upon its secretary and as long as Rauch remained in office, which 
he did until 1891, his burning ambition was to mop up all wet 
spots, to sanitate and to vaccinate the whole state. 

One valuable function the overworked, underfinanced State 
Board of Health did perform during Dr. Dan's incumbency: 
that was the elevation and strict enforcement of medical practice 
standards. The first meeting of the Board Dr. Dan attended in 
late June 1889 was typical. The secretary asked the Board that 
day for authorization to proceed against Blue Mountain Joe of the 
Oregon Indian Medicine Company. The concern was operating 
wholesale in the towns of northern Illinois, giving free consul- 

64 Daniel Hale Williams 

tation to the sick, prescribing medicine during the day and at 
night lecturing in public halls. While his outfit staged operatic 
performances, Blue Mountain Joe sold such "Indian" concoc- 
tions as Modoc Oil, Worm Eradicator, and something called 

In the previous two years, twenty-two itinerant showmen and 
mountebanks, enjoying sales estimated at $2000 daily, had been 
run out of the state. But Blue Mountain Joe was inclined to per- 
sist in his lucrative business and had appealed to the courts. A 
penny-foolish committee of the legislature was casting lingering 
glances after the $11,400 formerly collected in license fees from 
these itinerants. The Board had all it could do to protect the 
Medical Practices Act and at the same time force out the Blue 
Mountain Joes. Five suits had to be brought against "Doctor" 
Oregon Charley and four against "Colonel" T. A. Edwards be- 
fore the Oregon Indian Medicine Company was put out of business. 

The matter of diploma mills was constantly before the Board. 
At its February 1890 meeting Dr. Dan never failed in attend- 
ance the Chicago Correspondence University was investigated. 
This self-styled university had been incorporated by a board of 
six directors: a printer, a laborer, a teamster, a lawyer, a book- 
keeper, and a stove repairman. No doctor whatever brought dull 
reality into its affairs. But every time some such flimsy institution 
was outlawed, "graduates" would come squealing to the State 
Board of Health that their opportunities of earning a living were 
being ruined. So individuals not having diplomas from accredited 
medical schools were allowed the opportunity of taking exam- 
inations given by the unsalaried doctors of the Board. 

Reappointed in 1891, Dr. Dan continued to be a faithful attend- 
ant at all meetings of the Board, whether held in Chicago or 
Springfield. During the four years of his incumbency he re- 
ceived none of the plums; he was never, for instance, a delegate 
to the various meetings of the American Public Health Asso- 
ciation. Frequently he was the man who moved that someone 
else be sent. He would not place them in the predicament of not 
being able to send a Negro. And it was usually the punctilious, 


gracious Dr. Dan who proposed resolutions of appreciation for 
some member leaving the Board. If any of the old timidity re- 
mained, it was apparently buried past resurrection. 

With the defeat of Joseph W. Fifer by the Democrat Altgeld, 
in the gubernatorial campaign, the entire Board went out. Dr. 
Dan was succeeded by the elderly William E. Quine, once his 
professor in materia medica. 

Coming back to his bachelor room one evening after a long 
day of hard work, Dr. Dan found a letter from the East. Kittie 
May had escaped from her unbearable life. Her illness had not 
been long, but she had showed no wish to get well. Despite all 
efforts made for her, she had just quietly died. 

After that Dr. Dan worked harder, if possible, than ever. A 
few knew how great a blow had fallen upon him. Years later one 
said, "He took it hard," and another added, "His heart was 


First Interracial Hospital, 1891 

ONE blustery day In December 1890 Dr. Dan received a note 
from the Reverend Louis H. Reynolds, pastor of St. Stephen's 
African Methodist Church, asking him to come over that evening 
and discuss a problem. It was another of those requests for help 
which came to him frequently from local pastors. That evening, 
after his last house call, he drove through heavily falling snow to 
the parsonage over on the West Side of Chicago. Years later 
James Gordon remembered every detail, remembered Dan's cov- 
ering his horse with a blanket. The Reverend Mr. Reynolds 
greeted him eagerly and introduced him to his sister Emma. Dan 
listened intently to the story they unfolded. 

Emma Reynolds was educated and ambitious. She had come on 
from Kansas City to join her brother, hoping to get into one 
of the new nurses' training courses. Every training school in Chi- 
cago had turned her down. No Negroes accepted. Her brother 
thought perhaps Dr. Dan with his connections might be able 
to help. 

"Well," said Dr. Dan when they had finished, "here we are, 
only twenty-six years since Emancipation!" He frowned and 
shook his head, biting at his mustache. As a matter of fact he had 
been mulling over an idea for a long time. Perhaps now the mo- 
ment had come for action. 

The trained nurse was a recent arrival on the Chicago medical 


scene. Inevitably antisepsis, asepsis and bacteriology must end 
the bedside regime of both the devoted servant and the religious 
Samaritan. As doctors adopted the new techniques they required 
nurses able to understand and abide by their instructions. The 
change came slowly, just as the new surgery came slowly. There 
was inertia to be overcome and determined opposition in some 
quarters where the spoils system persisted. 

Dr. Dan was among those who welcomed the increasing num- 
ber of trained nurses. But he went further. As soon as he saw 
this new profession taking form, he saw what an opportunity it 
was for the energies and capabilities of colored women a means 
of self-expression, of earning a living, of raising health standards 
among the uneducated of the race. He longed to see them enter 
this newly open door abreast of white women. But even before 
Emma Reynolds appealed to him, he had realized that the reluc- 
tant acceptance, if it could be won, of one colored student here 
and another there would not open the door wide enough or soon 

The matter had its daily practical side for Dr. Dan. Old Aunty 
Babcock was too sick to be left alone. She must have a nurse. 
But where could he find a nurse Aunty would trust, who would 
not add to her worries and tensions, however unwittingly? Aunty 
would never feel at ease with a white woman around. And here 
was another problem: Mrs. Danvers must have an hysterectomy, 
but how to get her a private hospital room? That proud, culti- 
vated woman must not be shoved into a charity ward, as Negroes 
invariably were. Dr. Dan wanted to operate on her himself. But 
what hospital would allow him the privilege? That operation 
could not be done on a dining room table. 

It was hopeless, waiting to get on a hospital staff. If William 
Morgan, a full professor now, couldn't get a regular staff appoint- 
ment, who could? And these younger colored doctors, colored 
doctors of darker hue, one or two more of them coming out of 
medical school each year. What of them? Where were they to 
get interneships or find a theater for their professional work? 

Unless Negroes founded a hospital of their own, the whole 

68 Daniel tide Williams 

progress of the race in medicine and nursing, in health care and 
health education would be slowed down for years to come. You 
couldn't wait for white people to see the light. You had to tackle 
things yourself. 

All these things Dr. Dan had been turning over in his mind for 
months before he sat talking with the Reverend Mr. Reynolds 
and his sister in their lamplit parlor that stormy December eve- 
ning. In his more optimistic moments he told himself a Negro 
hospital was not an impossibility. Weren't there now some two 
hundred Negro enterprises in Chicago, in twenty-seven different 
fields? And enough Negroes to sustain twenty churches, a dozen 
or so lodges, three weekly newspapers. Why not a hospital? 

But it should not be a hospital for Negroes only. It must be 
interracial, open to all, regardless of race or creed owned, oper- 
ated and staffed by white and black together. It must be a hos- 
pital that would not only solve the medical problems of the Negro, 
but point the way to new and better interracial understanding and 
interracial co-operation. 

While he was working on the Illinois State Board of Health, 
Dr. Dan saw the need for more hospitals, not only for the colored, 
but for everybody. Hospitals were the only safe place for proper 
care of the sick; they were a demonstration of proper hygiene 
and diet; they were the necessary teaching laboratory for internes 
and nurses alike. 

For long months these ideas had kept teasing his mind. Now 
at last, here in the Reverend Mr. Reynolds's parlor, he was con- 
fronted with an immediate, concrete need. It was no longer a 
question of his own plan, but of Emma Reynolds's dilemma 
and beyond her all the others: young colored women, colored 
doctors, colored patients. With that shift his dream was focused, 
his energies were released. 

"No," he said to Louis and Emma Reynolds, but he said it 
smiling, "I don't think I'll try to get Miss Reynolds into a training 
course. We'll do something better. We'll start a hospital of our 
own and we'll train dozens and dozens of nurses!" 

Like a southern Wisconsin windstorm, Dr. Dan swung into 


action. Within a matter of days he had swept dozens of his friends, 
black and white, onto committees and put them to work. 

He asked his friend Lloyd Wheeler to arrange rallies all over 
the West and South sides. This was a master stroke, for Lloyd 
Wheeler whom he had once taken with him to spend a Christ- 
mas in Janesville had married Mrs. Jones's adopted daughter, 
Raynie Petit, and become manager of all the Jones business in- 
terests. He was heir, in a way, to John Jones's prestige. Known 
as "a good dresser," "an elegant mixer," and a man able to talk 
on any subject, the popular Wheeler made every meeting tingle 
with enthusiasm. 

Another of Dr. Dan's closest friends, James Madden, first col- 
ored bookkeeper to work in a Chicago white firm, constituted 
himself auditor and "never missed a duty and kept every detail 
straight." The preachers of the community gave their moral 
support to Dr. Dan's venture as he had given financial support to 
theirs. They turned over their churches for meetings and they 
served on his boards and committees: two bishops, John M. Brown 
and B. F. Arnett, and a half dozen pastors George W. Gaines, 
Louis H. Reynolds, of course, J. F. Thomas, R. E. Knight, and 
the educated, eloquent John T. Jenifer whose daughter was 
another of Dr. Dan's growing list of godchildren. White pastors 
helped too: Dr. Dan's old friend, Jenkin Lloyd Jones, and the 
famous writer, liberal lecturer and minister of Plymouth Congre- 
gational Church, F. W. Gunsaulus. 

Many other persons whose names are cherished in Chicago 
Negro history joined the undertaking. Captain John R. Marshall 
of Company A, later to be colonel when Company A was ex- 
panded into the Illinois 8th Regiment, and later still to be first 
colored deputy sheriff in Chicago, was an ardent supporter. He 
brought in the brilliant Franklin A. Denison, valedictorian of his 
class at the Union College of Law and recently appointed assistant 
city prosecuting attorney. The businessmen came in too: Theo- 
dore Wellington Jones, born among the Negro refugees in Canada 
and, now nearing forty, the successful owner of a furniture transit 
company and soon to be a member of the Board of Commissioners 

70 Daniel Hale Williams 

of Cook County. Mr. Jones represented South Side business In- 
terests. From the West Side colony came R. M. Hancock, colored 
foreman of the big Allis Chalmers Machine Shop, who did honor 
to his position by always appearing on Sundays in a plug hat, 
a Prince Albert coat, and shiny speckless boots. When Mr. Han- 
cock presided at one of the rallies for Dr. Dan's Hospital, Ms 
very presence gave tone to the proceedings. 

Tirelessly Dr. Dan travelled from group to group, putting the 
situation before them. Like his father, preferring deeds to words, 
he spoke simply, quietly, rapidly, without emotional appeal. He 
laid it before them the need among the poor, the great oppor- 
tunity for colored young women and colored doctors, the way 
it could be worked out. They'd have to start small, of course. But 
what Chicago hospital had not started small? Mercy Hospital, 
he told them, had had only a dozen beds at first; Wesley, but 
six. St. Luke's had begun in a small frame house. He thought the 
three-story brick flat building on the southwest corner of Dear- 
born and 2 pth Streets would do nicely for a start. There was 
room for twelve beds, and they ought not to tackle more at first. 

He reported that his friends at Chicago Medical College and 
at Mercy Hospital were interested and would help service the 
new venture; the new hospital would have the best men in the 
city on its staff. Eventually they might open a dispensary and 
handle even more cases without much more overhead. Of course 
it would take some capital. He himself would give two hundred 
dollars and P. D. Armour of F. W. Gunsaulus's congregation 
would give an equal amount! At this point pandemonium broke 
out and Lloyd Wheeler pounded in vain for silence. 

Every meeting some of them were held in the fiat of Mrs. 
J. C. Plummer on the southwest corner of Dearborn and 3oth 
Streets, some in the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church on 
the southeast corner, and others elsewhere every meeting ended 
more enthusiastically than the last. A hospital where Negroes 
would be received on an equal basis, a hospital Negroes would 
run! It was thrilling to think of it; it drew the whole neighbor- 
hood together in mutual hope and fellowship. At every supper 


table, from the home of the Reverend Jenkin Lloyd Jones to that 
of Jesse Binga, the vegetable huckster, Dr. Dan's hospital was 
the main subject of conversation. 

And then word got around that there were dissenters. At the 
next meeting the opposition came out into the open. John G. 
Jones, head of the colored Masons, called for the floor. "Mr. 
Chairman," he cried, "are we self-respecting people, or aren't we? " 

Jones was an able lawyer, would go to the state legislature, 
but he was a man of negative turn. "Indignation" Jones they 
called him. He was against a great many things, particularly those 
in which he had not been consulted from the start. Dr. Dan had 
failed to approach the man earlier and now he was against Dr, 
Dan's hospital because, according to him, it was going to be a 
segregated hospital. 

"I'd let colored people die in the streets," he shouted, "and 
be eaten up by flies before I'd put them in a separate hospital!" 

Murmurs of approval could be heard here and there. The com- 
mittee hastened to explain that all sick and suffering would be 
admitted to Dr. Dan's hospital, all, no matter what color of skin, 
what nationality or what religion. 

"What about the nurses?" challenged Jones. 

The battle was on then between the theorists and the realists. 
It lasted a long time and grew more and more legalistic. Finally 
Fannie Barrier Williams, wife of the up-and-coming colored 
lawyer, S. Laing Williams, another of Jenkin Lloyd Jones's con- 
gregation, rose to her feet. Mrs. Williams was a lecturer and jour- 
nalist in her own right; moreover, she was pretty. Years before, 
during the Civil War, her father had sat beside Dr. Dan's father 
at the National Convention of Free Colored Men in Syracuse. 
She was shoulder to shoulder with Dr. Dan now persuasive, 
intelligent, a woman ahead of her time. 

"But don't you see," she said, with all the appeal of voice and 
smile she could bring to bear, "there are other training schools for 
white women, but none at all for colored women. Why let white 
women take any of the few places we'll have open, at least at 
the start?" 

J2 Daniel Hale Williams 

While this was sinking in, she deftly set them laughing by 
pointing to Charles Bentley, "Dr. Bentley has to have teeth to 
work on or he can't be a dentist," she said, "and our nurses will 
have to have patients to train on or they can't become nurses." 
She reminded them that the patients would be white as well as 
colored and that the doctors would be colored as well as white. 
This was so reasonable that the opposition seemed to be dying 
out when Edward H. Morris, another lawyer, arose. Morris, 
elected the previous year to the state legislature, had built a three- 
story flat building at Dearborn and 27th Streets. 

"I'm not against the hospital," he said, "Fm just against the 

Mr. Morris wanted to know what a house full of sick and dying 
was going to do to property values. "Some of us have heavy in- 
vestments in that neighborhood," he said, "and look what hap- 
pened when that undertaking place opened up . . ." 

Laughter burst forth and Lloyd Wheeler took the opportunity 
to point out that after all Dr. Dan would be on the job and every- 
one wasn't going to die. If folks would send their sick to the hos- 
pital before they got too bad, they'd have a better chance of being 
cured. Then he asked, "Dr. Dan, don't you own some property 
yourself in that neighborhood?" 

The contrary Jones had one more try. He declared it cost 
money to run a hospital and challenged anyone to show him 
one hospital in the whole country supported by colored people. 
Dr. Dan could not stand this defeatism. He jumped up with eyes 

"It's about rime then!" he cried. "Look at the foreigners in this 
country. I don't care how poor they are, how uneducated. They 
have the humanitarian spirit to provide for their own sick and 
injured. Every single nationality has done so. And they don't 
number one tenth of us colored people." Words poured from him. 
For once his calm had deserted him; he pounded the table passion- 
ately. "A people who don't make provision for their own sick 
and suffering," he said, "are not worthy of civilization." 

The hall burst into cheers. John G. Jones was completely 


silenced, and organization now proceeded apace. Two ladies* 
auxiliaries were formed one on the West Side under the presi- 
dency of Mrs. Mollie Green, another on the South Side headed 
by Mrs. Connie Curl The ladies held ice cream socials and potato- 
collecting parties to raise funds. Dr. Dan found time to attend 
every affair. He was the brains behind every committee, he was 
the dynamo that kept them all going. With P. D. Armour's gift 
to cite and Jenkin Lloyd Jones to back him up, he approached 
others on Millionaire Row. H. H. Kohlsaat gave another $200, as 
did Miss Florence Pullman of the sleeping-car interests just now 
being defied by Clarence Darrow on behalf of the workers. Dr. 
F. C. Greene gave still another $200. Rabbi Emil Hirsch, pleased 
with the interracial aspect of the project, influenced the Young 
Men's Hebrew Association to contribute $100. 

There was one gift of $75 and four of $50 and that was the 
extent of the larger contributions. The rest was collected bit by 
bit, a task to which Fannie Barrier Williams lent her charm and 
her capabilities. Donations came from both white and colored and 
mostly in comparable amounts. The Sunday School of the Third 
Presbyterian Church gave $41.41; Bethel Church took up a special 
collection of $7 and there was a Christmas collection of $11.25. 
In such small amounts and even smaller was the total of $2,1 14.03 
finally achieved. It would take twice that much to buy a minimum 
of equipment and meet current expenses the first year. But most 
of the community was now supporting the project and there were 
promises to continue contributions throughout the year, month 
by month. 

On January 23, 1891, articles of incorporation were drawn up 
in the name of the Provident Hospital and Training School Asso- 
ciation. Dr. Dan himself insisted on the impersonal name, but many 
people continued to call it Dr. Dan's Hospital for a long time. 
Those who signed the historic document birth certificate of the 
institution that was to be a beacon in the wilderness of Negro 
medical care and education, progenitor and pattern for a hundred 
such institutions today were all colored and all ministers ex- 
cept Madden. The top line was left blank and never filled in. The 

74 Daniel Hale Williams 

busy Dr. Dan, after writing out the document, was called away 
before he could sign it. 

The endeavor grew by leaps and bounds. An advisory board of 
white people was formed. It included the Honorable Walter Q. 
Gresham, former Postmaster General, member of the Hamilton 
Club and frequently spoken of as Presidential timber; the Rev- 
erend F. W. Gunsaulus; and two doctors from Chicago Medical 
College, Frank S. Johnson and Ralph N. Isham. This white board, 
however, was purely advisory. The trustees, the executive com- 
mittee and the finance committee, on whom fell the real burden 
of the enterprise, all were colored. The genius of the whole 
affair lay in the fact that behind these committees and officers 
was a large membership organization, the Provident Hospital 
Association, of which every donor was a member. That meant 
almost everybody who was anybody in colored Chicago and a 
great many white people besides. 

There was much to do in the three months that intervened 
before the hospital could open. While Dr. Dan secured the equip- 
ment, the neighborhood poured in their gifts. Practically every 
household donated something. Mrs. Lloyd Wheeler gave a parlor 
stove, Mrs. David McGowan a clothes wringer; Mrs. Austin M. 
Curtis, six yards of chiffon lace for the nurses' caps. The S. Laing 
Williamses presented a portrait in crayon of Herman H. Kohlsaat, 
already beloved in the community for his gift of a library to the 
colored people. The Williamses sent books too, Half Hours With 
Great Authors, Looking Backward^ and some others. 

One day as willing hands were scrubbing and painting and 
putting the flat building into final shape, a commotion occurred at 
the door. On the high stoop stood old Preacher Galloway, waving 
his arms and crying; "May the Lord lay His curse on this work of 
evil!" Preacher Galloway was as negative about new things as 
"Indignation" Jones and much more indignant. 

Laughter rang out in answer, yet trailed off a little nervously 
when the infuriated man shouted next: "May the whole place burn 
to the ground before sunrise! A-men!" The building, however, 
still stood intact the next day and the Reverend Mr. Galloway 


had made the mistake of putting himself on record a little too 

At last all was in readiness and Provident Hospital threw wide 
its doors. The whole South Side poured in for the grand opening 
benefit party on May 4, 1891, only eighteen months after Emma 
Reynolds had sought a hospital where she might learn nursing. 
Every one was in a happy, expansive mood all Dr. Dan's old 
friends, all who had worked so hard on the committees. Among 
them was pretty Alice Smith, now Mrs. Jackson, the Indian girl 
from Oconomowoc, who had come with Traviata to visit when 
Dr. Dan was a struggling student. Mrs. Jackson took charge of 
the American booth. Colorfully bedecked booths of all countries 
turned the first floor into an international parade ground gay with 
streamers, flags and bunting. Countless homemade cakes and 
gallons of ice cream sold out as soon as they were placed in 

In the crowd wandered ]. M. Johnson. He had once been a 
porter in a boot and shoe emporium and had risen to become a 
well-to-do boot and shoe merchant. But he had never been able 
to throw off the frugality which had enabled him to make that 
transition. Suddenly Mr. Johnson was impelled to do a strange 
thing. He led two elderly ladies up to a booth and bought them 
dishes of ice cream. When James Gordon saw that he rushed over 
and told Dr. Dan a new era had indeed started. 

After the opening, scores of families kept up month-by-month 
contributions from their own stores: sheets, beds, a bundle of 
old linen, sugar, soap, blackcurrant jelly, and loaves of bread on 
baking day. The ladies' auxiliaries remained faithful. From time 
to time, Charles H. Smiley, the fashionable caterer, sent a can 
of assorted French ices, remainder of some gala event on the Gold 
Coast, Every evening Huckster Binga, one day to be a banker and 
contributor of more worldly goods, brought his leftover potatoes 
and vegetables and donated them to the hospital larder. 

In all the long lists of donors and their gifts, only one 
item carried a money valuation: "Hall: Japanese screen, worth 

76 Daniel Hale Williams 

Whatever Dr. Dan's hospital lacked in the way of space and 
equipment was made up for by the galaxy of medical and surgical 
names with which he was able to embellish its staff. There were 
few higher in Chicago. Busy men lent their names and, when 
needed, gave advice. Frank Billings, now full professor of physical 
diagnosis and secretary of Chicago Medical College, was chief 
consulting physician. The great Christian Fenger was consulting 
surgeon. Ralph N. Isham at sixty, so generous with his services 
as unpaid professor at Chicago Medical, gave both money and 
time to his former student's project. He and Dr. Dan were the 
attending surgeons. Then there were W. W. Jaggard and Henry 
T. Byford of the Chicago Medical faculty, and Horace Starkey 
who taught alongside Dr. Dan in the South Side Dispensary; 
these were consulting obstetrician, gynecologist and oculist- 
aurist, respectively. 

When it came to adding Negroes to the staff, Dr. Dan had 
difficulty. His standards were unrelentingly high, like those of 
the men with whom he had studied and been associated. It was 
important to himself as a serious professional man, to his position 
on the Illinois State Board of Health, to those who had consented 
to lend their names to his project, and above all, he felt, for the 
honor of the Negro race that everyone connected with this ven- 
ture should be soundly trained and properly qualified to serve 
the sick. All the more so since the Negro in the eyes of many 
would be on trial here. He wanted to use Negroes on the staff 
as soon as they were ready for it, but not before. And here he ran 
into some difficulties. 

There was no question about Traviata's husband, Charles 
Bentley. He was eminently fitted to be their oral surgeon. He had 
been a clinician for three years in the Rush Dispensary, had re- 
cently accepted a full professorship in oral surgery at Harvey 
Medical College, and was credited with being the first dentist in 
Chicago to use cocaine as a local anesthetic. There was ample 
recognition of Bentley's ability in the fact he had just served as 
president of the city-wide Odontographic Society. 

Another highly qualified colored man was Allen A. Wesley, who 


had been on the faculty of Fisk University before he entered Chi- 
cago Medical College. Both before and after taking his M. D., he 
had been clinical assistant to Dr. Walter Hay as well as to Isham. 
With Byford in consultation, Wesley could be very safely relied 
upon for the gynecological cases. 

For the one interneship to be filled there was Austin M. Curtis, 
just being graduated at Chicago Medical. Curtis was intelligent 
and willing, not reluctant to spend the night, if need be, with Dr. 
Dan in scrubbing the walls and floor of the small bedroom that 
served as operating room in order to be ready for an early morning 
operation. And as soon as Curtis could complete his interneship, 
Elmer E. Barr would be through Rush and ready to step into his 

Another Negro applied for a place on the staff. He was George 
C. Hall, the man who had given the hospital a screen worth $6.50. 
Hall had been practicing medicine about two years, mainly in the 
red light district His medical degree came from an Eclectic school. 
He was not well trained. From Dr. Dan's point of view he was 
not qualified. Others on the Board, more sentimental, eager to 
have another Negro on the roster, perhaps liking Hall's affable 
ways, urged his appointment. Dr. Dan finally compromised by 
allowing Hall to be appointed to the children's department. 

He made no compromises about the nurses' school. The training 
period was set for eighteen months, as long as any in the city. 
The instruction, Dr. Dan insisted, must be "most rigid," in- 
cluding all details of antiseptic preparation and nursing for sur- 
gery as well as care of serious medical cases. After a year he 
could say the advantages to students "are equal to those of any 
training school in the Northwest." All applicants had to be "fairly 
educated" and exhibit punctuality, personal neatness, general 
order, a gentle voice and manner, and a patient temper. "Let the 
nurse cultivate these qualities," said Dr. Dan, "together with a 
Christian, loving spirit." After the initial weeding-out process 
none was encouraged to remain who did not exhibit- real aptitude 
for the work. Seven young women enrolled in that historic first 
class, including of course Emma Reynolds. 

78 Dcnml Hale Williams 

Conservative Dr. Dan had thought It best to begin cautiously 
with a twelve-bed establishment. But so great was the response 
to the new hospital that within a few months it became necessary 
to move the student nurses into rented quarters nearby in order 
to make room for the influx of patients. At the end of the first 
year, Dr. Dan made a public report of the work. Of 1 89 sick and 
injured, 23 had improved, he said, 3 had not, 22 died, and 141 re- 
covered entirely. It was a ratio of which any hospital could be 
proud, especially in a time when only the most desperate cases 
were taken to a hospital. While the majority of patients served 
were Afro-American the interracial policy was maintained and 
12 Irish, 6 Germans and Swedes, and 17 "others" were cared for. 

"Although we lacked means and proper equipment," Dr. Dan 
said, "through the generosity of friends we have been able to give 
perfect care and treatment to such patients as our limited capacity 
permitted." As for the nurses' training school, many of the most 
influential persons of the city had inspected it and had given 
"their unqualified approval for its practical workings." What was 
needed now, especially in view of the approaching World's Fair, 
was enlarged facilities. "We sincerely trust," Dr. Dan said, "that 
before the close of another year a new and more modern building 
with most approved appointments will enable us to accomplish 
everything required of a modern hospital." 

This dream could be brought about, he continued, in many 
ways. "You can not only make bequests," he enumerated, "and 
help endow beds, but you can subscribe a certain sum monthly 
on the cards distributed by the Auxiliary Societies . . . collect 
funds among your acquaintances . . . send jellies and fruit from 
your tables . . . arnica, Pond's Extract, Brown's Ginger, plasters, 
camphor from your medicine chests . . . old rags from your linen 

He made them feel there was nothing they could not do for 
their hospital "If you live in the country," he said, "beg from 
the farmers potatoes, butter, eggs and vegetables of all kinds." 
And then he reminded them, "You can speak a good word for the 
hospital when you are among strangers, and you can pray for it." 


People did pray for Provident Hospital, and they danced for it 
too. The Chicago colored group's first full-dress affair was a 
charity ball held in the 2nd Regiment Armory on the evening 
of February 25, 1892. The event was not only a gala one whose 
memory some preserved for fifty years in a creased, yellowed 
invitation with flourishing script reading "Yourself and ladies are 
invited . . ." but, what was more to the point, it netted the new 
hospital $231.15, and reduced the first year's deficit, on outlay 
for equipment, to only $795.78. This could easily be absorbed in 
the second year's operation. 

Three fourths of the cases coming to the new hospital were 
surgical. Some were accident cases from the stockyards and the 
railways. Others were Dr. Dan's personal patients. His interest 
in surgery was growing more and more and he decided to do some 
special study in abdominal and pelvic anatomy with F. Byron 
Robinson, just back from six months spent in England with the 
great experimenter, Lawson Tait. 

While Robinson taught in various of the inferior schools and 
published in the less fashionable firms, the discerning recognized 
his caliber. Christian Fenger said his research on the peritoneum 
was a classic. Another gave Robinson credit for changing the 
entire aspect of abdominal surgery. A third, while he considered 
Robinson the best man in Chicago with whom to study gyne- 
cology, added, "Provided you can keep from killing him after 
you have endured him for a week." 

However much Dr. Dan may have been troubled by Robinson's 
rude manners, he admired the man's fever for work and passion 
for dissection. Robinson signally helped Dr. Dan to move out of 
the confines of internal medicine and into surgery. 

About this time Chicago Medical College effected a closer union 
with Northwestern University and, dropping the old name en- 
tirely, moved to new and larger quarters on Dearborn between 
24th and 25th Streets. The move brought about an expansion of 
postgraduate opportunities and Dr. Dan, now ten years out of 
medical college and determined not to drop behind in the march 
of science, promptly enrolled in a course in bacteriology. The 

8o Daniel Hale Williams 

subject, still so nebulous in his own college days, had by now 
assumed a form and stature he felt demanded study. He could 
squeeze it in; it was only a quick walk of four blocks from his 
hospital to the university. 

His small hospital demanded constant attention. Still he found 
time in this busy year to prepare his first medical paper. He wrote 
it despite lack of encouragement. 

Dr. Dan had not been asked to join the exclusive South Side 
Medico-Social Society founded by a small group of his college 
contemporaries in :he year of his graduation. This circle, secret 
at the time, enjoyed making each meeting a white-tie-and-tails 
affair. They ate an expensive dinner together in a South Side 
hotel and then listened to each other's papers preparatory to get- 
ting themselves "suggested" at one of the larger medical societies 
where they all duly appeared to "discuss" the paper and enhance 
each other's reputations. At least five of these men were Dr. 
Dan's personal friends Franklin Martin, Frank Billings, L. L. 
McArthur, Otto Schmidt, and E. Wyllys Andrews. But they were 
not a majority in the social club and Dr. Dan was not included. 

So, with no logrolling, but with Fenger's blessing, Dr. Dan 
presented his maiden effort before the Gynecological Society on 
a March night in 1893 when a strong lake wind beat upon the 
windows and rattled a loose sash. The noise competed unsuc- 
cessfully, however, with Dr. Dan's well-schooled voice and man- 
ner. He had faced rowdy classrooms and had aroused the interest 
of bored indifferent claims courts. He knew how to get and to 
hold attention. 

His paper was a short one on appendicitis and supplementary 
to a longer discussion of that subject which Fenger was to read 
the same evening. 

Appendicitis was a highly controversial subject just then. Dr. 
Reginald Heber Fitz had read his famous paper in 1886 establish- 
ing the responsibility of an inflamed appendix for the condition 
previously defined vaguely as inflammation of the bowels, cholera 
morbus, or, later, perityphlitis, Fitz had urged that procedure in 
such cases be radical: if the symptoms did not subside within 


twenty-four hours, he declared the surgeon should remove the 
offending appendix at once. But Fitz was not immediately con- 

The conservatives and the progressives drew up in two battle 
lines that stretched clear across the country. A bitter contest 
waged between them for years and nowhere was the engagement 
hotter than in the Middle West. In the spring of 1888 Will Mayo 
reported nine cases to the Minnesota State Medical Society and 
urged a waiting period before operating. In 1889 Jhn B. Murphy 
appeared before the Chicago Medical Society with thirteen case 
histories and insisted unequivocally upon early surgical interven- 
tion. He was shouted down. Now four years later, the internal 
medicine men were still stubborn about yielding the field to the 
surgeons. Fenger was among those who held back and Dr. Dan 
held back too. 

He presented two cases of successful delayed operations, one 
case of fatality where operation had been refused by the patient, 
and five cases of which four had recovered without operation. 
He had employed catharsis, he said, and local heat both of 
which have since gone into the discard and he wrongly de- 
duced a possible infection of the appendix from the caecum, in- 
stead of vice versa. 

The members present, who had braved the inclement weather 
to come, on the whole agreed with him. Robinson, who was there, 
gave it as his opinion that appendicitis occurred oftener in men 
than in women another premise since discarded. It would be 
fourteen years before Murphy would return to the Chicago Medi- 
cal Society with two thousand cases to back up his thesis for im- 
mediate operation and no voice would be left to oppose him. Dr. 
Dan might shake his head ruefully over this paper in later years, 
but he was in excellent company at the time. 

What best characterized Dr. Dan's contribution was his minute 
and inclusive observation before diagnosis. After he sat down, 
Fenger remarked that "Dr. Williams has noted facts of utmost im- 
portance." His conservatism did not come from failure to be in- 
formed about the new; his brief paper revealed a broad knowledge 

8 2 Daniel Hale Williams 

of both prevailing schools of thought. It came rather from a tem- 
peramental thoroughness and attention to detail. It was not an im- 
proper characteristic for a young surgeon. Innovation would 
come, and soon, and be just as thoroughly grounded on obser- 

During the first six months of '93, Dr. Dan had to work hard to 
keep Provident Hospital on its feet. There was the inevitable 
slump in enthusiasm that attends every new venture. It was mag- 
nified by the national economic situation. The country was going 
through another of its recurring depressions, this time more severe 
than ever. At one point it seemed the World's Fair itself must go 
on the rocks. But new money was poured in and the magnificent 
spectacle stretching along the lake front opened in May, only add- 
ing to Dr. Dan's burdens. He was on the Sanitary Board for the 
Fair, which meant extra duties. And his sisters, Alice -and Florence, 
with young Zellie Ridgley came on from Annapolis to see the pag- 
eantry. He had to find rooms for the girls and spend rime taking 
them around. 

Dr. Dan spent some time, too, with the aging Frederick Doug- 
lass. The great Negro leader, a hunted slave in his twenties, an in- 
ternationally famous editor and orator in middle life, had now for 
years been a trusted government representative. Back from service 
as United States Minister to Haiti, Douglass was in Chicago as 
Haitian Commissioner to the Fair. Dr. Dan's mother called Doug- 
lass "cousin" and there were family traditions linking Dr. Dan's 
grandmother, his mother's mother, with the same plantation and 
the same white inheritance that produced the great race leader. 
Dr. Dan was glad of the opportunity to see more of his famous 
kinsman than had been possible in the past. 

Douglass, after delivering an oration at the Fair denouncing the 
ever-increasing lynching of Negroes in the South an oration, 
the Tribune said, that "burned itself into memory" came to the 
South Side and lectured in Bethel Church. Then, shaking back his 
long white mane and striding along with the Indian erectness that 
was his heritage an erectness that belied his seventy-six years 


Douglass brought the lecture proceeds of $50.25 in his own hands 
and presented them to Dr. Dan's little hospital which so badly 
needed them. On one side he was escorted by Fannie Barrier Wil- 
liams and on the other by the militant race journalist Ida B. Wells. 
Dr. Dan came out in his white coat to lead the honored guest up 
the high stoop and into the country's first and only interracial hos- 
pital while "every Negro in Chicago" stood on the curb. If there 
was anyone who did not know before where Provident Hospital 
was, he knew now. 

Dr. Dan had other worries than money in those first years of 
operating Provident Hospital He found it difficult to find the 
right young women to train as nurses. The first year 175 applied 
for training, but few were of the right sort. A people straining 
every nerve to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps, to es- 
cape from the servant class, saw no difference at first between the 
bedside work of the past and this new "trained" nursing. A girl 
who had gone to high school, and those were the girls Dr. Dan 
wanted, felt she was taking a step backward if she entered nursing. 

Dr. Dan had to write betters all over the country, urging friends, 
relatives and acquaintances to send him recruits. Isabella Garnett 
came from Minnesota; Mabel Williams, his cousin's daughter, 
came from Rockford. Others came in strange and devious ways, 
hearing of the new opportunity from preachers, teachers or the 
few colored doctors. For many it was an upheaval of major mag- 
nitude involving a trip from a distance and a break with old ties 
and old ways. Dr. Dan's nursing course precipitated a sort of revo- 
lution in many a colored home. One of his first and most success- 
ful graduates was a young Canadian, Jessie Sleet, who, after her 
venturesome training, went on to New York City to become the 
first colored woman to do district nursing for the Charity Organ- 
ization Society, and trained many other young Negroes in her 

They went so far, these first brave pioneers, because Dr. Dan 
coached them well. Not only were they drilled to soldierly obedi- 
ence and precision in their work and made to feel that anything 
less than perfection was not enough. They were carefully In- 

4 Daniel Hale Williams 

structed as well in how to maintain the dignity of their person 
and their profession. Their superintendent must always be ad- 
dressed as "Miss," no matter how small and modest the hospital in 
which they served. And they themselves must insist upon being 
called "Miss"; a practical measure to this end was never to tell 
their first names to patient or patient's family. Thoroughgoing Dr. 
Dan overlooked nothing. 

Times grew worse. Wages were slashed, unemployment in- 
creased, and then came bank failures and a currency famine. 
Homeless transients crowded the saloons and the indomitable 
Frances Willard from Janesville, now a nationally famous temper- 
ance advocate, went around trying to mop up the grogshops. 
More sick people needed charity and fewer people were ready to 
give to charity. It was a trying time for Dr. Dan. One of his young 
student nurses, Isabella Garnett, later remembered how old and 
worn he looked at this time, though he was only thirty-seven. 
More than once she saw him reach into his own pocket and give 
the superintendent money for the day's food. Dr. Dan himself 
usually ate with the young interne Austin Curtis, whose little 
sister Hattie brought him a basket lunch each day from home. 
While they ate, they talked, and during those sessions young 
Curtis learned much from his chief. 

In these hard times contributions from less wealthy persons had 
fallen off. True, Armour and Kohlsaat and Miss Pullman contin- 
ued to give liberally, but Dr. Dan had to have more money. 
Judge Barnes in the Hamilton Club was his good friend. The 
judge spoke to his law partner, George H. Webster, about Dr. 
Dan's hospital and Webster, with his Puritanism and almost bel- 
ligerent sense of racial justice, was easily persuaded to increase his 
original small contribution. 

So Provident was able to hang on, even in years of financial 
ptoic. But Dr. Dan had to abandon for the time being all thought 
of a new building. That must wait for better times. 


'Sewed Up His Heart!' 

EARLY July '93 was desperately hot in Chicago. People sought 
relief at the lake shore or rode about on the cable cars. Often the 
horses drawing the cars fell in their tracks and had to be replaced. 
Men were warned to place a cabbage leaf inside their hats before 
venturing on the streets. Despite precautions, many suffered heat 
prostrations and doctors were kept busy. 

Tempers rose and on July 9 in a saloon not far from Provident 
Hospital irascibility flared into a brawl. A man was stabbed. The 
victim was a sturdy young Negro expressman, James Cornish. He 
was rushed to Provident. He could not say what kind of knife 
his assailant had wielded or how long the blade was. Dr. Dan ex- 
amined the wound. It appeared to be only about an inch long, sit- 
uated about three-quarters of an inch to the left of the breastbone, 
between the fourth and fifth ribs. The wound seemed superficial. 
The absence of external bleeding or evidence of internal hemor- 
rhage gave no hint of deeper injury. 

But after a while Cornish began to suffer persistent pain over 
the region of the heart and to show pronounced symptoms of 
shock. Dr. Dan concluded that one or more of the important 
blood vessels must have been injured, perhaps the heart itself. As 
he finished his examination and straightened up, he silently re- 
viewed the situation. What shduld he do? 

The X ray had not yet been invented, so he could not know 

86 Daniel Hale Wittiatm 

what condition lay within. Most writers on cardiac or thoracic 
matters gave warning to leave heart wound cases strictly alone. 
Keep the patient as quiet and as cool as possible. Some doctors 
said to pack the patient in ice or, if you had no ice, to put him in 
a cool cellar. The rest must be left to Providence. But surely, Dr. 
Dan thought, a surgeon could do something. 

He knew that the heart had been revered by the ancients as the 
seat of life "the chief mansion of the Soul, the organ of the vitall 
faculty" and any wound in it was regarded as inevitably fatal. 
To interfere with destiny would be blasphemous. This attitude 
had persisted until the middle of the seventeenth century when 
someone noticed that not all cases of heart injury were fatal. After 
that records were kept and it was seen that in fact a good many 
recovered without, of course, any medical or surgical aid. 

To wonder as Dr. Dan was doing whether a surgeon might not 
assist recovery in such cases was a much bigger step forward. In 
some desperate cases of pericardial effusion, doctors had success- 
fully used the aspirating needle to evacuate the fluid in the outer 
sac of the heart where it might interfere with heart action and 
cause the patient's death. But blood vessels and nerves, so abun- 
dant in this vulnerable area, were often injured by these blind at- 
tacks. Some patients died and the method was already in disrepute. 

Not long before Dr. Dan's graduation from Chicago Medical, a 
Dr. Block in Danzig had conducted vivisectional experiments on 
rabbits and dogs and from them concluded that death could often 
be prevented if there were not so much dread of opening the tho- 
racic cavity. A simple incision of the pericardium and suture 
would take only a few minutes, he said. 

Block's experiments led John B. Roberts of Philadelphia to go 
further. Roberts argued that if cardiac distension and pulmonary 
engorgement could be relieved successfully by aspiration, then 
cutting through a portion of the intercostal cartilege and incising 
the pericardium should be a reasonably safe procedure. He ven- 
tured to add that "the time may possibly come when wounds of 
the heart itself will be treated by pericardial incision to allow ex- 
traction of clots and perhaps to suture the heart muscle." 


Dr. Dan had read Roberts's article In the Chicago Medical Jour- 
nal and Examiner when he was a senior student and he remem- 
bered it now, remembering too that Roberts had not fulfilled his 
own prophecy, nor had anyone else so far as he had ever read. 

The eminent surgeons of the world had not looked favorably on 
Block's or Roberts's suggestions. The German, Theodor Billroth, 
a man of standing and by no means a timid surgeon Dr. Dan 
used his text in college utterly condemned the idea. "Any sur- 
geon," Billroth charged, "who would attempt to suture a wound 
of the heart is not worthy of the serious consideration of his col- 
leagues." That made a man stop and think. 

Only two years before, in 1891, C. W. Mansell Mollin's book 
on Surgery had reached America. Many regarded it as the a best 
in the English language," and yet all that Mollin, Fellow of the 
Royal College of Surgeons, could say was that the only treatment 
"likely to be of any avail is absolute rest, cold, and opium; vene- 
section has been recommended to relieve the heart, but it can very 
rarely be necessary. The external wound may be closed in the 
hope of arresting hemorrhage; but it must not be forgotten that 
accumulation of blood in the pericardium is one of the common 
causes of death. On one occasion I attempted to close the wound 
with sutures." 

It was aggravating that Mollin had broken off abruptly at this 
point without saying why he had abandoned his attempt or what 
the outcome to his patient had been. And Nicholas Senn who 
had just moved from Milwaukee to Chicago daring and astute 
as he was, had concluded that "surgical interference with the heart 
is impracticable." 

There was certainly not much to guide or encourage Dr. Dan. 
He would run no professional risks if he gave the man an opiate 
and let it go at that. Most doctors would approve. Of course the 
man would then probably die. But if he attempted surgical inter- 
ference, if he took up Roberts's long-neglected challenge, he 
would have to venture into uncharted territory, with unforesee- 
able results. If he failed, he could expect nothing but condemna- 
tion from most of the profession. 

88 Darnel Hale Williams 

He watched the dark face on the white pillow for a moment as 
he held the man's wrist. Cornish was coughing now short, 
sharp, shrill barks. Slowly Dr. Dan laid the man's hand down and 
turned to the interne, Elmer Barr. 

"I'll operate," he said. 

While patient and operating quarters were being prepared, Dr. 
Dan sent a hasty word to a few medical friends inviting them to 
watch the operation if they wished/Six doctors, four white and 
two colored, crowded the small operating room, the converted 
bedroom. William E. Morgan came tall, thin, angular, almost 
frail-looking, rejoicing over his appointment at last as assistant to 
Christian Fenger in the Dane's new clinic at Mercy Hospital. 
Morgan brought with him a student, Coleman Buford, who was 
living in his home while completing his last year at medical col- 
lege. Buford had already come under Dr. Dan's spell in the dis- 
pensary classes and was delighted to be in on this exciting event. 
Two other white doctors were present: William Fuller, a young 
general practitioner with ambitions toward surgery, who came at 
every opportunity to watch Dr. Dan operate; and Howard Roy 
Chislett, another rising young doctor whom Dr. Dan had taken 
into his office as assistant. From the staff of Provident came 
George Hall and the interne, Elmer Barr. Among the surgical 
nurses, was Mabel Williams, Dr. Dan's cousin. All these crowded 
the small room to suffocation. The heat was intense. Buford, exas- 
perated and he still was fifty-odd years later was pushed back 
into the corner where he stood on tiptoe, craning his neck to see. 

Dr. Dan's first great problem of course was what might happen 
when ak was admitted to the internal thoracic region. He had 
none of the modern adjuncts to fortify his entry into this danger- 
ous territory. No X ray, and ony the crudest anesthesia. No 
trained anesthetist with his anesthetic machine and its tanks of 
gases from which to choose oxygen, cyclopropane, ethyletie, 
nitrous oxide, carbon dioxide. Not even a rebreathing bag and 
face mask for closed administration of ether under positive pres- 
sure, which would have kept Cornish's lung inflated. He had no 
artificial airway to keep the windpipe open. None of the new 


intravenous anesthetics, such as sodium pentothal. No blood trans- 
fusions to keep his patient alive and to relieve himself from the 
terrific compulsion to make haste. No penicillin or sulf onamide to 
correct any infection that might ensue if his aseptic technique 
should be the least imperfect. He did not even have intercostal re- 
tractors to widen transversely the opening he intended to make. 

Thus, without even the minimum equipment that is a matter 
of course today, and unaided by his own or anyone else's ex- 
perience, Dr. Dan set to work. 

Even if Cornish's lung did not collapse, the inrush of air would 
certainly cause a shift of the chest organs to the right Some shift 
would be good; it would give him more working space. But too 
much would cause shock and death. Well, those chances he had 
to take. 

What worried his watchers were the difficulties Dr. Dan must 
face in gaining access to the heart. He would have to thread his 
way through an uncertain, highly dangerous network of blood 
vessels and nerves. At the same time, he must do nothing to inter- 
fere with the continuous beating of the life mechanism. Not a 
man there but must have shuddered as Dr. Dan put the point of 
his knife to Cornish's inert body. 

Swiftly Dr. Dan lengthened the stab wound until he had an 
incision between the ribs about six inches in length. This exposed 
the breastbone, cartilage and about an inch of the fifth rib. Next 
he chose a point two and a half inches from the breastbone and a 
quarter inch from its attachment to the rib and quickly severed 
the cartilage of the rib from its junction with the sternum, making 
a neat little trapdoor two inches long and one and a half inches 
wide. He now had an entrance into Cornish's chest, but a very 
circumscribed entrance, no bigger than a small knothole. He was 
being as conservative as possible and his caution was making his 
operation even more difficult. 

While everyone stood with bated breath, Dr. Dan lifted his 
tiny trap door and, bending down, peered within. He could see 
the large internal blood vessels. As he had surmised, one of them, 
the important left internal mammary artery, was damaged. If 

9 Daniel Hale Williams 

there had been continuous bleeding from this vessel, Cornish 
would have died before he arrived at the operating table, but the 
nature of the wound had contributed to the gradual cessation of 
hemorrhage. Even so, such recurrences as had been stimulated by 
the respiratory motion of the lungs and chest had been sufficient 
to throw the husky expressman into severe shock. 

Rapidly Dr. Dan tied the injured vessel to prevent any further 
hemorrhage. Then with considerable difficulty, due to the shift 
of the lungs and heart and also to the fact the pericardium was 
rising and falling with each heartbeat 130 times every minute, he 
managed to inspect the quivering sac covering the vital organ. 
The assailant's knife had gone in much deeper than outside con- 
ditions indicated; there was a wound in the sac fully an inch and 
a quarter in length. 

And now for the heart itself! Somehow Dr. Dan managed to 
hold the throbbing pericardial wound apart and examined the 
wildly beating, living dynamo. The weapon had penetrated the 
central organ also, but only to the extent of a tenth of an inch. The 
wound, Dr. Dan told the watchers, was about half an inch to the 
right of the right coronary artery and between two of its lateral 
branches. Half an inch either way and Cornish would not have 
reached Provident alive. 

Dr. Dan found no active hemorrhage from either heart or peri- 
cardium now apparent. He considered the situation carefully and 
decided the heart muscle itself needed no suture. The pericardium 
was a different matter. If he did not suture it, infection might enter 
the pericardial sac from the pleural cavity, or, in healing, the peri- 
cardium might adhere to the pleural sac and cause Cornish con- 
stant pain in the future, if nothing worse. The pericardium, he 
concluded, must be sutured. 

First he irrigated the wound with normal salt solution of 100 
degrees Fahrenheit, which by that rime was about room tempera- 
ture. Then he grasped the edges of the pulsating wound with long 
smooth forceps. With not a little difficulty, he held the fluttering 
edges together and, using a continuous suture of fine catgut, he 
managed to close the wound. Next he closed the intercostal and 


sub cartilaginous wounds, again using catgut. For the cartilages and 
the skin, he changed to silkworm gut and left a few long sutures 
in the external stitches. They would permit easy removal in case 
infection or hemorrhage should develop, though he prayed it 
would not. Then he applied a dry dressing, straightened his aching 
back, and mopped his brow. The silent intent circle around him 
stirred; someone spoke. The historic operation was over. 

No one had thought to keep a record of the time. To young 
Buford, who reflected he had never seen an operator proceed 
with such speed and self-confidence, it seemed short. But neither 
Buford nor many of the others knew how many hours Dr. Dan 
had spent acquainting himself with human anatomy. 

With no prolonged discussion the little group of busy men 
broke up, each hastening off about his own particular business. 
Results to the patient were yet to be seen. 

During the first twenty-four hours Cornish's pulse was high, 
thin and weak, and his temperature rose to 103 degrees. He suf- 
fered some pain in the region of the wound, but he did sleep 
six hours without drugs. The second day the expressman's tem- 
perature fell a degree; however his pulse increased to 134 and 
was still weak. He slept only four hours and suffered paroxysms 
of coughing, followed by three dreadful hours of hiccoughing. 
Dr. Dan scarcely left his side. But the third day, while Cornish's 
fever remained high, his pulse went down to 118; on the fourth 
day it was 96, with temperature almost normal. 

Seven days after the operation, the patient again had some 
pain. Gradually the spaces between his lower ribs began to bulge 
while at the same time his heartbeats sounded muffled and distant. 

"There's fluid in the pleural cavity," Dr. Dan said to the interne 
Elmer Barr who stood watchfully beside him. That was not too 
serious, Dr. Dan added, unless there was also an accumulation 
within the pericardial sac. That he could not determine until he 
had emptied the pleural sac. But since Cornish's temperature con- 
tinued to stay normal, Dr. Dan gave his patient as much time as 
he could to recover his strength before he operated a second time. 

On August 2, a little more than three weeks after the first 

92 Daniel Hale Williams 

operation, Cornish was trundled Into the operating room again. 
This time Dr. Dan made a two-inch incision between and parallel 
to the seventh and eighth ribs and removed five pints of bloody 
serum. There was no pus whatever; his asepsis had been perfect! 
The accumulation of bloody serum was the natural result of irri- 
tation of the pleural tissues by an extensive operation and, per- 
haps, by the original stab wound. Gravity drainage in the direction 
of least resistance had carried the fluid to the base of the left pleural 
sac, where it did the least harm. This had kept the wound dry and 
provided a favorable condition for primary healing. There were 
no further complications, and on August 30, just fifty-one days 
after he had entered the hospital an apparently dying man, Cornish 
was dismissed and his case was checked off: "Termination: 
Cured." Twenty years later the man was still alive and well. 

The doctors who had watched Dr. Dan make history were not 
slow in telling other doctors about the daring venture and its 
great success. For weeks surgical conversation dwelt on little else. 
Dr. Dan soon found himself a respected man in Chicago's topmost 
medical circles. The hospital staff, the Board, and friends of 
Provident, passed the exciting news around. Kohlsaat sent a re- 
porter from the Inter Ocean, of which he was part owner, to 
interview the thirty-seven-year-old surgeon, ten years out of 
medical college, who had won this laurel. 

Dr. Dan grasped the opportunity to publicize race accomplish- 
ments. He filled the report so full of information about the col- 
ored hospital, the colored nurses (a second class was about to grad- 
uate) and the capable colored doctors on the staff that it was 
only halfway through his column-long story that the reporter 
remembered he was sent to write about an operation on a man's 
heart. But Dr. Dan would not let him go until he added one more 
sentence at the end about the nurses. "Their presence," he said, 
diffuses an indescribable sense of security and gentleness through- 
out the operating room." 

The caption writer, however, put on a headline strong enough 
to startle any breakfast reader dallying over his coffee before 
starting off for a Saturday at the Fair. "SEWED UP HIS HEART!" 



cried the first line and went on for a five-bank heading: "REMARK- 
ISHING FEAT . . ." Undoubtedly every household on the lists of 
the ladies' auxiliaries west and south bought a copy. 

Dr. Dan issued no official report of his pioneer undertaking, 
because of the pressure of many events, until three and a half 
years after he operated on Cornish. He had always meant to study 
over the case in detail. He wanted to know why the extent of the 
wound was not immediately ascertainable. At work one day 
with a group of medical students, his old case occurred to him 
and he proceeded to re-enact wound and operation on a cadaver. 
He found that the intercostal tissues were so elastic that they 
reclosed tightly enough after an incision to prevent the insertion 
even of a piece of paper. That was why he had not seen at once 
how extensive the wound had been. Also he determined to his 
satisfaction that a stab wound in that particular position must 
always sever not only the internal mammary artery, but would also 
always pierce both layers of the pleura. 

His students grew so excited over the review and study of this 
dramatic affair that they urged Dr. Dan to publish the case, 
and one in particular, J. W. McDowell, assisted in abstracting Dr. 
Dan's notes. The report appeared in the Medical Record of New 
York on March 27, 1897, a month after that publication had re- 
ported a similar but unsuccessful venture made in Norway in 
1895 by Cappelen, and a month before it was to report a suc- 
cessful suture of the heart muscle made in Germany in 1 896 by 
Rehn. Dr. Dan's article contained the statement that neither the 
Index Catalogue of the National Medical Library nor the Inter- 
national Index Medicus "give a single title descriptive of suture 
of the pericardium or heart in the human subject. This being the 
fact, this case is the first successful or unsuccessful case of suture 
of the pericardium that has ever been recorded." 

Immediately Dr. Dan was acclaimed, and has been ever since, 
as the first man in the world to "sew up the heart." Occasionally 
a writer, especially one Southerner, rejected the "Negro 
Williams's" case because he said Dr. Dan had dealt with the en- 

94 Daniel Hale Williams 

velope of the heart and not with the heart muscle itself. How- 
ever most writers have said the great feat was the successful 
entrance of the dangerous area of the thorax and the performance 
of a surgical exploration of the heart, whether or not sutures 
were taken in the heart muscle or only in the pericardial sac 
which, after all, jumps about under the operator's fingers almost 
as violently as the "seat of the soule" itself. And today the Cyclo- 
pedia of Medicine., Surgery and Specialties says "it is good prac- 
tice to think of the heart and pericardium together when con- 
sidering trauma." 

A month after publication of Dr. Dan's report a correspondent 
of the Medical Record called attention to a previous successful 
pericardial operation performed in St. Louis, September 6, 1891, 
by a Dr. H. C. Dalton. Though Dalton's patient remained in the 
hospital three months and twelve days, he was discharged appar- 
ently well. What caused his long stay in the hospital, twice as long 
as Dr. Dan's patient remained in Provident, or how long he lived 
thereafter is not known. Benjamin Ricketts, M. D., F. A. C. S., 
an authority on heart surgery, who began vivisectional experi- 
ments on dogs in 1874 and published his Surgery of the Thorax 
and its Viscera in 1918, knew about both Dalton's and Dr. 
Dan's cases and at one time included both in his early writing. 
Later he dropped Dalton's case, perhaps because the patient did 
not live, and he continued to call Dr. Dan the first, both in writing 
and from the lecture platform. 

Like Dr. Dan, Dalton did not publish his official report for some 
three years. He read an account of his operation ten months after 
Dr. Dan operated on Cornish and officially published it in The 
Annals of Surgery a year and a half after the unofficial publica- 
tion of Dr. Dan's operation in the Inter Ocean. Dr. Dan did not 
know about Dalton's operation when he performed his own; in 
fact he did not know about it when he wrote up his report. The 
Index Medicus was changing editors; issues were delayed and 
garbled when they did come out. Dr. Dan was as much a pioneer 
and innovator as if a precedent did not exist. It takes away nothing 


from his courage, originality and skill, even though first place 
may remain in doubt. 

More important than official priority is an evaluation of the 
technique Dr. Dan displayed in what was to him, at any rate, an 
operation without antecedent or authority. In the first place he 
worked swiftly. This saved his patient from prolonged hemor- 
rhage and exhaustion. In the second place he made no missteps, 
as did Cappelen (1895) and Parrozzani (1897); ^ surgery was 
correct and he did not add, as they did, to his patient's injuries. 
In the third place, his asepsis was perfect and there was no infec- 
tion as in the German Rehn's case (1896). And finally, his pro- 
cedure is the routine recommended today by Sauerbruch and 
others namely, to close the wound in the pericardium and leave 
no drainage tubes, only reopening if necessary, as Dr. Dan did, to 
relieve any pericardial effusion that may develop. 

Dr. Dan's success in operating on Cornish was no chance affair. 
He performed at least two later successful operations on stab 
wounds of the heart. One patient, George Albert Cotton, wounded 
in the early 1900'$, lived for fifty years after the operation. 

Dr. Dan's leadership gave authority to other innovators and 
his success encouraged surgeons both locally and far from Chi- 
cago. William Fuller, who watched Dr. Dan operate on Cornish, 
reported to the Chicago Surgical Society twenty-three years 
later that he too had sutured a pericardium. He used Dr. Dan's 
procedures almost step for step. 

Today heart operations are not uncommon. But they are still 
hazardous whether of the heart or the pericardium and they 
are always dramatic. They still take courage and utmost skill and 
the mortality is still more than fifty per cent. The profession con- 
tinues to bow to the accomplishment of Dr. Dan three quarters 
of a century ago. 

Cornish had left the hospital on the 30th of August, completely 
sound and well. How sound and well was demonstrated unex- 
pectedly a few months later when he reappeared at Provident 
Hospital late one night, bawling vociferously, his head covered 

96 Daniel Hale Williams 

with blood, a gory sight. Cornish, a young man of animal exuber- 
ance, had once more got into a fight, and once more had come 
off the worse for It. 

"Where's Dr. Dan?" he yelled, "I got to see Dr. Dan!" 

Attendants tried to silence him, but he had already roused Dr. 
Dan asleep in a nearby room. He came out tying his dressing gown 
around him. 

"So it's you, Cornish," the sleepy doctor said. "How many 
policemen are after you this time? " 

Cornish could only blubber and beg to be taken care of. "Oh, 
Dr. Dan," he moaned, "you can save me. For the Lord's sake, 
save me!" 

Dr. Dan refused to smile. He said he doubted if Cornish was 
worth saving. When the man's howls redoubled and were about 
to waken the entire hospital Dr. Dan appeared to relent. "Well," 
he said, "you have got some nice fancy work in you, Cornish. I 
guess I can't afford to lose you. You're an important specimen." 

A week or so later "when he was removing stitches from Cor- 
nish's scalp, Dr. Dan told the young fellow he could be dismissed 
the next day. Then he added: "Look here. You've had enough free 
care in this hospital. I want you to go out of here and get your- 
self a job and stick to it and send Provident some money." 

The next morning, Cornish's bed was empty, both of him and 
his blanket. But Cornish was not without gratitude. A few days 
later a grimy bundle was found at the back door of Provident 
Hospital. Upon examination it was found to contain one hospital 
bed blanket and a scrap of paper on which was scrawled in pencil: 
"Thanks Doc." 


A National Task 

WHEN in 1893 Cleveland triumphantly returned to the White 
House for his second term after the Republican interlude of four 
years, events were set in motion that were to have significance 
for Dr. Dan. Cleveland called to his cabinet as Secretary of State 
Judge Walter Q. Gresham, who had long been a friend of Dr. 
Dan's and a supporter of Provident Hospital. Gresham was now 
old and ill, and he did not want to be Secretary of State, but 
his sense of duty was strong, and back he went to Washington 
where he vhad previously served. When the judge and his wife 
returned to their home in Chicago for a brief stay, Dan made a 
friendly call. Gresham talked earnestly about Dan's work. He 
said he had long felt Dan should be working in a larger field. He 
said the new administration planned to make changes at Freed- 
man's Hospital, the government hospital in Washington for 
Negroes, and he urged Dan to apply for the job of chief surgeon 
there. The judge would be happy to recommend Dr. Dan for the 

"But what about Provident?" Dan asked. 

"If it's service to your race you're thinking of," the Secretary 
rejoined, "Freedmen's needs you more than Provident, from all 
I hear." 

That night Dr. Dan turned the matter over and over in his 
mind. Was he really needed in Chicago? Provident had many loyal 

98 Daniel Hale Williams 

supporters. The hospital was ending its third year in the black, 
with a small surplus. Charles Bentley, 'Viata's husband and Dan's 
longtime friend, would carry on as secretary with both devotion 
and efficiency. The consulting staff was strong and Allen Wesley 
was a good man in gynecology. Dr. Dan must have thought 
eagerly of the larger opportunities at Freedmen's, of the 2oo-bed 
hospital as compared with Provident's twelve beds. 

He took up one of his letterheads with the small neat imprint 
in the corner and wrote Gresham his answer, still to be seen in 
Freedmen's files at the National Archives. Dr. Dan's large irregular 
script first sprawls, then contorts, seems to tumble forward with 
eager decision and then to draw quickly back. But Dr. Dan had 
made his choice. 

Dr. Dan was not the only applicant. The news that an opening 
of so much prestige was imminent brought in a flock of applica- 
tions from over the country, many urging that votes were in 
tow. Practically every colored doctor in Washington applied. 
Freedmen's Hospital and the affiliated Howard University medical 
faculty had been a closed corporation to them all for so long 
that they leaped at the chance of breaking in. Various applica- 
tions illuminated the situation. Said one: "The large death rate of 
this hospital for many years has been so extraordinary that a radi- 
cal change looking to better therapeutic methods should have 
been instituted therein long ago." Said another, a white applicant: 
". . . no colored physician can fill the place properly because 
they have less respect for their own race than a good Christian 
white man feels." 

Dr. Charles B. Purvis had been surgeon in charge of Freedmen's 
for a dozen years and had made of it a comfortable berth. Trained 
in the pre-Civil War, pre-bacteriological era, whatever contribu- 
tion he could make he had completed long ago. Son though he was 
of the great Abolitionist, the wealthy, light-skinned, polished 
Robert Purvis who had helped nine-thousand slaves escape to the 
North and freedom, Charles Purvis was no idol of his people. His 
marriage to a white woman had been considered an act of disloy- 
alty and his overbearing manner he was a big, ferocious man 


with harsh, barking voice made him none too popular in Wash- 
ington or at Freedmen's. Attempts had been made before to oust 
him, but without success. 

Now Purvis marshaled his forces again to resist this attack upon 
his position. He loudly proclaimed his status as a Civil War vet- 
eran, claimed to have been among the doctors who had attended 
the wounded President Garfield, called on Frederick Douglass, 
called on the local clergy, and secured a flood of letters from 
Howard graduates protesting any 'change. Finally he persuaded 
the Howard trustees to present a lengthy series of "considerations" 
to the Secretary of the Interior. These considerations said that 
the clinical advantages which University medical students en- 
joyed at Freedmen's Hospital, because Purvis also served on the 
faculty, would be endangered if a "complete stranger" were 

Dr. Dan's endorsers were all medical men, white men, from 
the topmost rank in Chicago. It was a rank they accorded him 
too. His old teacher Isham was quick to write how "earnestly 
and actively" his one-time student had been at work in his pro- 
fession. Professor Joseph B. Bacon, of the Post Graduate Medical 
School, testified to the "skill and energy" that had won a repu- 
tation, he said, for Daniel Hale Williams throughout the state of 
Illinois as well as in the city of Chicago. His sponsors spoke of 
the quality of the man in the same breath with which they spoke 
of the surgeon. Byron Robinson noted that he had had an inti- 
mate association with Dr. Dan in practical surgical procedure for 
several years and he recommended him "as an honorable man 
and a skilled surgeon ... of wide experience and good judg- 
ment." Wyllys Andrews sent a lengthy communication in answer 
to a query put by the Interior Department. 

I am personally acquainted with this physician [he 
wrote] , and esteem him highly. ... I knew him as a student, 
and have kept up my acquaintance since his graduation 
some ten years ago. His professional standing is excellent. 
... I have often seen him in connection with accident 
cases. ... He makes a good expert witness, being well in- 

ioo Daniel Hale Williams 

formed and ready. His practice among the colored people 
here has been very large. It is not confined to the colored 
people by any means, however. . . . I arn informed that Dr. 
Williams has accumulated considerable property since he 
began practicing medicine. He is a man of good address, and 
has great influence among the colored people here I am told. 
He belongs to various medical societies here and certainly 
has many business and social acquaintances outside the col- 
ored race. . . . You are correctly informed that he belongs 
to the colored people. He has a very small strain of colored 
blood about him, but to all appearances is a white man. I 
was well acquainted with him for two years before I knew 
that he was 'colored' so little does it show in his appearance. 

The judgment of Dr. Dan's white associates was summed up by 
Franklin Martin, now secretary of the Post Graduate Medical 
School and Hospital. 

I have known intimately Dr. Daniel H. Williams for more 
than ten years [he wrote]. I know him to be a man of honor 
and as a member of society a superior gentleman. Profession- 
ally he stands at the top of the medical profession of Chi- 
cago. He is a surgeon of great scientific ability, and his 
executive ability, as demonstrated in the organization and 
equipment of Provident Hospital of Chicago, is beyond 

Dr. Dan won the appointment, but he came into a difficult 
situation. Local resentment of "foreign intrusion" seethed. Howard 
University faculty and trustees smarted from being overridden. 
Purvis was still there, still secretary of Howard medical faculty. 
A man of bulldog tenacity, he was ready to fight for a comeback 
at the first opportunity. 

Dr. Dan was appointed toward the end of February. He took 
the oath of office under President Cleveland and returned to Chi- 
cago to wind up his affairs. On the week end he went, as he often 
did, for a round of quail shooting in southern Illinois. Somehow 
he was shot through the right foot. Whether because the initial 


care of the wound was not what it should have been, or because 
his general health was depleted, inflammation in the veins of his 
leg set in. For three weeks he was confined to bed in the hospital 
he had founded. Then, fuming with Impatience, he refused to 
stay quiet any longer and left the hospital, cleared up his con- 
cerns and shipped off his belongings to Washington. As a conse- 
quence he suffered a relapse, so serious that amputation of his 
leg was suggested. Dr. Dan called for Fenger. The Dane, expert 
in endoscopy of gunshot wounds from his experience in the Prus- 
sian wars, took charge of his old student and saved his leg. 

It was the middle of May before Dr. Dan got to Washington 
and still his leg was not completely healed. He had another re- 
lapse and had to return to Chicago, The infection that had started 
in the foot and spread to the veins of the leg now involved lymph 
vessels and glands as well. Fenger decided on the radical pro- 
cedure of removing them, It meant long slow healing by granu- 
lation. Dr. Dan had little reserve strength. All summer he lay in 
the Emergency Hospital on the North Side to be near enough for 
Fenger's personal attention. 

This long delay, so exasperating to the patient, was made good 
use of by some who were jealous of his success. George Hall, 
whose appointment several years before on the Provident Hos- 
pital staff had not been favored by Dr. Dan, took the opportunity 
to try to make matters difficult for him. He wrote the Colored 
American in Washington that Freedmen's new chief would never 
take his place at the hospital. The newspaper gave the letter no 
notice. HalFs friend James Blackever then wrote the Secretary 
of the Interior who was responsible for the administration of 
Freedmen's. Blackever called the Secretary's attention to HalFs 
letter, written, he said, by "an associate of Dr. Williams," and he 
added that he himself had been in Chicago "where I left Dr. 
Williams following his everyday profession.'* "Everyone knows," 
Blackever asserted, "that he is only baffling with the Department 
... at the expense of those he was sent to serve." 

A small Negro sheet in Chicago took up the attack by saying 

io2 Daniel Hale Williams 

that "Freedmen's Hospital is in charge of an invalid who has 
drawn eight months' salary without performing a single week of 
service. . . . He is a fitter subject for a hospital than the manage- 
ment of one . . . and ought not to be a ward of the Government." 
The Washington Star joined the fray and brought up again the 
issue of local sovereignty: 

Believers in the equitable doctrine of home rule are prop- 
erly disturbed because the Chicago doctor whom Secretary 
Gresham had appointed ... Is still an absentee. . . . Wash- 
ington seems fated to suffer from the appointment of incom- 
petent or careless or extremely obnoxious non-residents. 
... If Dr. Williams is unable or unwilling to assume charge 
of affairs at the hospital, it would be quite the proper thing 
for the authorities to require his resignation. Then a local 
physician should be appointed. 

Meanwhile, to add to Dr. Dan's dejection, Traviata lay slowly 
dying of tuberculosis. Deprived of the distraction of work, he 
must have been tortured with memories of 'Viata, of their evenings 
together at the piano in the old home in Janesville, and later on, 
in Chicago. Now death would take her. Death had taken too 
many of those he had cherished. His father . . . Tessie . . . Ellen 
. . . Kittie May . . . and now 'Viata. 

August dragged slowly by and the healing moved no faster. 
He tried riding out some each day in a carriage, but the heat 
oppressed him. A new abscess developed within the wound. A 
neglected silk suture had remained imbedded in the tissues. Com- 
pletely disheartened, Dr. Dan pinned^ the offending knot to a 
letterhead and wrote his friend Gresham. 

"From my sister I learn that some one has intimated to Mr. 
Sec'y Smith or other officials," he said, "that I have been drawing 
salary from the Government and have made no effort to get to 
Washington. I have never drawn one dollar from the Govern- 
ment," he declared and recounted some of the difficulties of his 
convalescence. "Secretary Smith," he added, "has been very, very 
kind to me. He fully appretiates the struggle I made for my life. 


... I think he feels my heart is in the work, though he does not 
know as you do the sacrifice I made to leave everything here. I 
shall be deeply obligated if you will speak to him. I do not wish 
to be misrepresented to him in any way." 

He sent another indirect answer to his detractors by issuing 
a somewhat premature announcement to the Chicago colored 


To MY MANY FRIENDS: After a siege of nearly six months 
illness, during a great part of which time I was unable to be 
seen even by most intimate friends and was forbidden the 
letters of sympathy contained in every day's mail, I am glad 
to be able to announce that I am rapidly recovering. 

With the sincerest appreciation and thanks I desire to ac- 
knowledge the kind offers of the countless friends who by 
personal call, letters of considerate inquiry and other tokens 
of high regard, have done much to reconcile me to what at 
one time seemed an almost hopeless affliction. Unable to 
acknowledge the many favors at the time they were ex- 
tended, prompts this general acknowledgment and assurance 
that not one word or token txas failed of my most sincere 
appreciation and regard. 


In mid-September, Dr. Dan was finally able to leave Chicago. 
He planned to rest when he got to Washington at the house in 
Kingman Place he had already bought for his mother and younger 
sisters. Just as he was leaving for Washington, he learned that a 
"Board of Incorporators" of Freedmen's Hospital a paper body 
set up by Howard University trustees were seeking to gain 
control of the hospital. Also, Purvis had filed a request with the 
local District government to recognize himself as surgeon-in-chief . 
His resignation, he said, had only been given because the federal 
government had demanded it. Purvis claimed that an act of Con- 
gress in March 1893 actually gave supervision and control of the 
hospital to the District Commissioners and removed it altogether 

104 Daniel Hale Williams 

from the jurisdiction of the Department of the Interior. But 
thanks to the ruling of the Attorney General, Dr. Dan's position 
as head of Freedmen's was confirmed. 

The Howard medical faculty gathered in the college building 
to meet, if not to welcome, the new surgeon-in-chief. They were 
all white men with the exception of Purvis and his assistant, Dr. 
Furman L. Shadd. Dr. Dan stood to receive them with the short, 
thickset, white-haired Jeremiah Eames Rankin, president of How- 
ard University, on one side of him, and on the other, broad-shoul- 
dered Thomas B. Hood, dean of the medical school. 

Both Hood and Rankin were worthy men and men of good will. 
Rankin, author of the popular hymn, "God Be With You 'Til 
We Meet Again," had been for years pastor of the First Congre- 
gational Church in Washington and had welcomed there both 
colored and white. He was beloved by colored people. His very 
anxiety to give the Negro his due had led him to listen sympa- 
thetically to the grievances of Purvis when he was dismissed from 
Freedmen's. Both Rankin and Hood were extremely polite but 
noncommittal, to Dr. Dan, who looked more like a member of 
their race than of the race Freedmen's was supposed to serve. 

On such occasions as this one, Dr. Dan's quality stood out. Hus- 
bands and wives, once they had shaken his long thin hand, re- 
treated to the far corners of the room to peer over each other's 
shoulders and scrutinize the slim erect figure, so faultlessly 
groomed, so quietly poised. It was evident to all of them that he 
had been seriously ill. Dr. Dan no longer wore a beard and his 
thin face, clean shaven except for a heavy burnished mustache 
that hung well over his lower lip, was revealed in all its pallor and 
bony leanness. A handsome, finely chiseled face, but a little tired- 
looking. His hair had darkened until the reddish tinge of his 
youth had all but disappeared. The volatility of countenance 
that went with that lively color had been replaced by a quieter, 
more waiting attitude. Only his dark eyes were as lively, as pene- 
trating as ever. When he looked at you he gave you his full 


Neither of the colored doctors welcomed Dr. Dan, Purvis for 
obvious reasons and Shadd because of the disruption to his per- 
sonal life. Purvis and his white wife lived in the city. Shadd had 
served as house physician and he and his family had occupied an 
apartment on the second floor of the medical building. Now he 
had to move out of these quarters to make way for Dr. Dan. He 
was obliged to find another home just as his wife and small son and 
daughter were returning from a year abroad. 

When Shadd had cleaned out his belongings, Dr. Dan unpacked 
his books, filled the shelves and piled the overflow wherever he 
could. He hooked up the long green gas tube of his reading lamp, 
stood a demonstration skeleton in the corner, plunked down a 
gruesome skull on the brocaded cover of his study table beside 
inkwell, daily calendar, and a bowl of late zinnias from the 
grounds. The beflowered Brussels carpet was cheerful, there was 
a rocking chair in the corner if he would ever use it, and under 
the table he threw a pair of knitted slippers. Then he sat down to 
study the records. 

Freedmen's Hospital and Asylum was more asylum than hos- 
pital when Dr. Dan took it over. Its Civil War past still over- 
shadowed it, and all but the indigent of both races shunned it. 
Its name revealed its origin. The government had had no choice 
but to care for the ill and aged, the helpless and destitute "contra- 
bands" who had flocked into the capital before the advancing 
armies. Various temporary expedients had been tried and finally 
the hospital had become one unit and adjoining Howard Univer- 
sity another in a settled government program of relief and of 
guidance for both whites and blacks in what was hoped would 
be a planned transition from feudal agrarianism to modern farming 
and industry. 

That magnificent program, however, had soon been abandoned 
to selfish interests North and South. The Freedmen's Bureau was 
closed in June 1872 with its work barely begun. Within two years 
fifty-six hospitals and forty-eight dispensaries had to be turned 
back to varying forms of local administration. Richmond and 
Washington complained with some justice that the large num- 

*o6 Daniel Hale Williams 

bers of sick, lame, insane and blind left on their doorsteps were 
too great a burden. Richmond's patients were accordingly shipped 
to Freedmen's Hospital in Washington and the federal govern- 
ment continued to be responsible for the institution. 

For a brief time the hospital was under the War Department, 
but soon was transferred to the Department of the Interior. The 
custom of having the head of the hospital also serve on the medical 
faculty of Howard University ensured the availability of hospital 
facilities for the use of medical faculty and students. There were 
also other interlocking arrangements. 

The four two-story frame pavilions built a quarter century 
before were still in use. They sprawled over three acres and com- 
prised four wards for men and four for women. Temporary 
barracklike structures to start with and since deteriorated through 
age, constant use, and insufficient repair, everything about the 
pavilions suggested the makeshift arrangements of an emergency 
period. Each ward, 25 feet wide and 115 feet long, was heated 
by a single stove. Patients near the stove baked and those far away 
froze. There was constant danger of fire. You could get ventila- 
tion only by opening the windows; temperature regulation was 
impossible. Water closet arrangements were primitive and unsan- 
itary. Furnishings were poor and depressing. 

The operating room was in the "Brick," the one solidly con- 
structed building which housed classrooms of the medical de- 
partment of Howard University, the administrative offices of the 
hospital, and the apartment of the surgeon-in-chief . A sixth build- 
ing contained a chapel, dining room, kitchen, provision room, 
icehouse, washroom and engine rooms. Surgical patients had to 
be carried on stretchers from the wards into the open, regardless 
of weather or their condition, and carried back to the wards again 
after operation. Convalescent patients had likewise to expose them- 
selves to the weather in going to their meals. Bed patients received 
trays which had been carried across the yard from the kitchen, 
and the food was cold. 

Purvis's reports showed his long tenure had dulled his percep- 
tion of inadequacies in the institution he served. Without modern 


hospital experience, he had accepted things as they had long 
been and had not sought to change them. 

Dr. Dan picked up one of Purvis's last reports and no doubt a 
smile, quivered under his long mustache as he read: "Considering 
that the patients are admitted from every phase of society, the 
order and decorum has been all that could be expected. . . . Mrs. 
Ada Spurgeon continues her missionary labors among the sick. 
. . . The rule requiring from the patients who are able some serv- 
ice has been continued. The following articles have been made by 
the women: bedsacks 16, pillow cases 140, sheets 162, towels 103, 
drawers 12, chemises 50, dresses 60, aprons 165, handkerchiefs 6, 
shirts 25, nightgowns 60." 

Purvis seemed to feel no chagrin that out of 2605 patients 270 
had died a death rate of over 10 per cent. Dr. Dan must have 
wondered why it had not been even higher. There was no depart- 
mental organization within the hospital aside from the fact that 
men were separated from women and Ward 4 was set aside for 
"confinement" cases. Nursing was in the hands of old bandannaed 
mammies, untrained, many of them illiterate, unable even to tell 
time. That morning Dr. Dan had seen a ward mammy receive 
word from the office that the hour had struck, whereupon the 
old woman had waddled to a commanding position between the 
long rows of beds, clapped her hands and shouted: 

"All you 'leven-o'clockers, take yo' medicine!" 

What they took, or how much, or whether they took any at 
all, was known only to the patient and his guardian angel. 

After some hours with reports and statutes Dr. Dan found that 
besides an almost hopelessly inadequate plant, he had inherited an 
historical melange of government regulations and divided author- 
ity. He was responsible to the Interior Department for administra- 
tion of the institution, to the District Board of Commissioners 
for the finances. He had no power over the admission or dis- 
missal of patients and inmates. These came in on order from the 
Interior Department where no medical examination was made. 
Some were recommended to the Interior Department by the Phy- 
sicians of the Poor, others by the Associated Charities, and by 

io8 Daniel Hale Williams 

far the largest number by the police. Reports showed that as many 
as eighty to ninety inebriates could be found in the asylum at 
a time. In addition, the Commissioner of Pensions and the Board 
of Managers of the National Soldiers' Home were accustomed 
to ask that ex-soldiers be cared for if they were desirous of re- 
cuperating while waiting for their pensions, often a matter of three 
or four weeks. That year, Dr. Dan saw, 129 such "patients" had 
been received and supported for varying lengths of time. 

Hospital grounds and buildings were situated near 6th and 
Bryant Streets, beyond the boundary and regulations of the 
District of Columbia. To the east, over the hospital's neat white 
picket fence, lay Cow Town, a miserable aggregation of squatters' 
shacks, cows, pigs, chickens and hapless humanity. Occupied by 
whites before the Civil War, after Emancipation these mean abodes 
had fallen to homeless black refugees from the South. Left to 
sink or swim as best they might, here they still were thirty years 
later. If Cow Town was an unsanitary neighbor for a hospital, 
LeDroit Park to the southeast was an unfriendly one. Apparently 
fearful of defilement by both Cow Town and Freedmen's, that 
fashionable area had withdrawn behind its high board fence and 
posted a watchman at its locked gate. 

The hospital yard itself was neatly kept. There was plenty 
of help, of course, from the ambulatory male patients. They were 
free wards of the government and required to give their services. 
There were grass and trees, some flowers even. 

The shambling plant was the worst. Somehow it must be trans- 
formed into a modern hospital. 

Within three weeks after his arrival, Dr. Dan was able to report 
to the Secretary of the Interior that Freedmen's Hospital had 
been systemized into seven departments: medical, surgical, gyne- 
cological, obstetrical, dermatological, genito-urinary, and throat 
and chest. He had also set up those two modern adjuncts, a patho- 
logical department and a bacteriological department, though his 
equipment scarcely justified the terms. 

Coincident with this departmental organization Dr. Dan estab- 
lished a nonsalaried medical staff of twenty "gentlemen who have 


achieved eminent success as practitioners in their respective lines 
of professional work." This was the system he had used at Prov- 
ident. It was the system of the modern hospitals. Some of the men 
were doctors on the Howard medical faculty, but others were 
prominent in Washington medical circles. No longer should 
Freedmen's remain a secret festering place unknown to the medical 
profession of the capital city. If it had evils they must now know 
about them, and to know was to share the responsibility and help 
bring about a change. 

And while he was opening Freedmeu's doors to white doctors, 
he opened them also to colored doctors. He made his staff inter- 
racial and gave the few struggling Negro doctors of Washington 
an unprecedented enlargement of opportunity. He kept on Dr. 
Shadd as one of the attending gynecologists and Dr. John R. 
Francis as one of the obstetricians. Dr. Francis was an able local 
colored doctor who had been called in to manage Freedmen's 
during Dr. Dan's long illness. With it all, Freedmen's patients 
were no longer at the mercy of a few entrenched appointees of 
uncertain ability. 

Immediately, too, Dr. Dan set up a system of intemeships to 
supplement the staff of twenty doctors. He was prompted, he 
explained to his superior Hoke Smith, Secretary of the Interior, 
by the economy of such a move it did away with the need for 
two former paid assistants and also because it was the best pos- 
sible way to place within the reach of young colored medical 
graduates an opportunity for advancement which, so far as he 
knew, he said, was unfortunately not accorded them in any other 
hospital in the United States, except in the Provident Hospital 
in Chicago. 

Over the world hospitals were becoming the real educators of 
medical men, whether medical schools grew out of hospitals 
as in France and England, or hospitals were established as labora- 
tories to medical schools in university settings, as in Germany. 
Though Freedmen's had had a connection with Howard Univer- 
sity from the beginning, it had offered students but little. As Dr. 
Dan saw it, Freedmen's ought to have a vital relationship to the 


Daniel Hale Williams 

colored race and its higher development. Waxing eloquent in his 
proposals to Hoke Smith, he declared that Freedrnen's could be 
the national public training school for the colored physician; it 
could send him out into communities all over the country "richly 
endowed with practical experience and fully prepared to meet 
the intricate requirements of his profession." 

The Secretary of the Interior was more interested in purging 
the pension list of fraud and in conserving the natural resources of 
the West than he was in conserving or aiding the colored race. 
As a Georgian he was committed to maintaining white supremacy 
in the South. He did, however, give Dr. Dan permission to 
accomplish what he could as long as he stayed within his budget 
and the legal network thrown over Freedmen's. 

To meet the immediate situation, Dr. Dan chose four colored 
internes. At Freedmen's as in other hospitals, internes were given 
room and board at the hospital in return for their services. 
The living, plus the experience then gained, was generally con- 
sidered a fair recompense for the work they did in the various 
departments. But Dr. Dan thought otherwise. "These men are 
poor," he pointed out to the Secretary of the Interior. "I feel 
they should be encouraged." He suggested they be given ten dol- 
lars a month compensation, but Smith said seven would have 
to do. 

Dr. Dan had to pay his internes and finance his projected nurses' 
training program out of an ironclad budget. Since the two paid 
assistants to the chief surgeon were mainly interested in the 
clinical advantages they received at the hospital and since both had 
outside practices, he proposed to Hoke Smith that their salaries 
and working hours be reduced to a minimum. He would have pre- 
ferred to dispense with them altogether, since under the new 
system of interneships they were not needed. But the Secretary 
feared more upheaval in an already tumultuous situation; he urged 
"the retention of united interests." However, in the end, in order 
to save the nurses' training program so important to the whole 
project, Smith agreed that $900 might be taken out of the $3000 
stipulated for the two assistants. Some money had been saved 


already out of Dr. Dan's salary while he was ill. Thus the funds 
for the new nursing program were assured. 

So thoroughly had Dr. Dan worked out the course for student 
nurses at Provident that he could lift that plan intact and put 
it into operation at Freedmen's without a change. But he had 
another problem. His big difficulty lay in the prior existence of a 
so-called Training School for Nurses a project undertaken by 
Howard University at the suggestion of Purvis less than a year 
and a half before. The Howard plan offered nothing but out- 
moded didactic instruction two evenings a week, with a promise 
of "some" practical experience in Freedmen's Hospital, and it 
admitted both girls and older women of varying or no back- 
ground to the same classes. 

If he was to do anything to reduce the high mortality rate at 
Freedmen's, Dr. Dan knew he must first of all get rid of unfit 
attendants. Even if properly trained nurses were available, he had 
no money to pay their salaries. But carefully selected student 
nurses could, when supervised by a qualified superintendent and 
her assistants, give the bulk of the service in the hospital at the 
same time they were learning. Other hospitals in the country were 
finding this possible and it was Dr. Dan's plan for Freedmen's as 
it had been his plan at Provident. He advised Howard University 
of his views and a working compromise was arrived at. Both 
schools would be carried on side by side, one administered by 
Purvis, the ousted surgeon-in-chief, the other by Dr. Dan, the 
new surgeon-in-chief. 

After this dubious solution, Dr. Dan appointed his superintend- 
ent of nurses, Sarah C. Ebersole. He had known Miss Ebersole in 
Chicago where she had been night superintendent of the Presby- 
terian Hospital. She was of course white, since the only colored 
nurses in the country were Provident's few graduates and none 
as yet had had sufficient experience to handle a 2oo-bed hospital. 

His next step was to send a circular letter to all Negro centers 
churches, schools and newspapers inviting qualified young 
women to come to the capital and enroll at Freedmen's Hospital 
for training as nurses. Young women were more willing now to 


Daniel Hale Williams 

undertake nursing than when he started Provident. From the 
five-hundred applications which came in from all over the 
country, he accepted fifty-nine. He asked these applicants to come 
to Washington, bringing with them certificates of health as well 
as of moral character. For a month they were on probation, and 
during that time they had to pass examinations in reading, pen- 
manship, simple arithmetic and English dictation. At the end of 
the month forty-six had met Dr. Dan's standards. These forty-six 
were now fully accepted as student nurses for the eighteen-months 
training course. 

In addition to board and lodging they would be provided with 
caps, textbooks and notebooks, and five dollars a month. 

The schedule of lectures, recitations and examinations for the 
student nurses was a stiff one. Miss Ebersole supervised their prac- 
tical work in the wards, teaching them both observation and re- 
cording of the patient's condition. She fitted up a diet kitchen 
and taught the girls invalid cookery. She taught them ventilation, 
disinfection and antisepsis, and brought in a professional masseur 
for demonstrations of massage. The program was on a par with 
the best training anywhere; it was revolutionary for Freedmen's. 

The student nurses were on duty for twelve hours each day, 
but this included an hour off for dinner and additional time off 
for exercise and rest. A free afternoon a week and a half day 
on Sunday, with a two-weeks vacation each year, made a program 
comparable to standards fifty years later. No one went on night 
duty until she had been in the school three months. 

Dr. Dan was a severe taskmaster. He insisted that everything 
should be done in an orderly and proper manner. No nurse should 
appear on the grounds without her cap. One day he stopped Kate 
Gibson and said, "Daughter, you'd look better with your cap 
on." Kate never left it off again. And she remembered the incident 
all her life. 

He called them all "Daughter" and treated them with a father's 
confidence and trust. "Daughter," he said to Elizabeth Tyler as 
she stood by a very sick patient waiting for his instructions, 
"Daughter, this woman's got to live." Miss Tyler was full of the 


sense of responsibility he put upon her and never forgot his words 
or the compelling tone of his voice, and was as thrilled as he was 
when the patient did live. 

There was a passion in all Dr. Dan said and did the passion 
of faith, the invincibility of boundless courage, the conviction of 
perfectibility. In his lectures to the medical students he hammered 
away as well he might after his own experience on the neces- 
sity for saving arms and legs, of always avoiding amputations ex- 
cept as a very last resort. "Amputation," he told them with ve- 
hemence, "is too often the easy course of laziness, impatience and 
incompetence." If they practiced modern asepsis intelligently, 
they could save limbs that in the old days had to be abandoned. 
"We must have continuity of the parts," he would repeat, "better 
a crippled leg than no leg." 

He talked the subject so much that the students fell to calling 
him "Mr. Continuity-of-the-Parts." But they never forgot that 
legs and arms were precious possessions, not to be lightly dis- 
pensed with. 

Dr. Dan was as rigorous with the internes as with the nurses. 
He said many times that an anesthetist must never take his eyes 
oS the patient, no matter what was going on in the operating 
room. One day a scatterbrained young doctor allowed his eyes 
to roam and Dr. Dan called another to take his place and sent the 
offender packing from the room. 

Dr. Dan was forgiven because he was as relentless with himself 
as with others. Not one but could testify out of his or her own 
observation that Dr. Dan had earned the awesome reputation he 
held. One or two sulked, but almost everyone recognized that he 
demanded perfection because he was determined to break down 
the prevailing belief that Negroes could not learn as well as whites. 
He loved his race, he wanted them to have their rightful place 
in life, and he demanded a performance from them that could 
not be criticized. 

But he did not bear down on subordinates just because they 
were subordinates, they told each other. There was the time Eliza- 
beth Tyler passed Dr. Dan out on the grounds as he was talking to 

1 14 Dmiel Hale Williams 

Old Boston. Old Boston had been a slave and he could not get 
over his slave ways. Though a drizzling rain was coming down, 
Old Boston held his hat in his hand while he bowed and scraped 
to the doctor. "Put on your hat, Boston," Elizabeth Tyler heard 
Dr. Dan say, "put on your hat, man, or you'll catch cold." 

And he was as lavish with praise as blame, whenever it was 

All that first year Dr. Dan had trouble with the Howard Uni- 
versity medical faculty about the two nursing programs. When 
Purvis saw people being won over to Dr. Dan's progressive pro- 
gram, he cried out that if the university abandoned "its nursing 
school" as he euphemistically styled his twice-a-week evening 
class, it would prove the initial step toward inevitable curtailment 
and eventual abandonment of the remaining departments of medi- 
cine, dentistry, and pharmacy. This was nonsense, but Purvis made 
the most of it. 

At one point Dr. Dan agreed to let the university take over the 
course if Miss Ebersole remained in charge, but by fall he decided 
this was untenable and gave notice that he was going to keep 
jurisdiction himself. One by one members of the medical faculty 
came to realize the change was inevitable and, with Purvis still 
dissenting, they agreed to drop their competing class. 

There were difficulties, too, over division of space in the one 
brick building occupied jointly by hospital and university. When 
Dr. Dan asked for a reallotment of rooms between the Dental 
College and the hospital, his proposal brought forth cries that 
the change would mean the "destruction" of the student division! 
However, after some months, the Dental College accepted 
rooms on the first and third floors and turned over the second 
floor to the hospital. 

Funds or no funds, Dr. Dan somehow managed to get an in- 
closed passage built between the operating room in the Brick and 
the nearest ward, which he then made the surgical ward. 

By January, Dr. Dan felt no further delay must prevent instal- 
lation of an ambulance system. The vehicle he was able to get 


was not up to his standards. It looked much like a covered delivery 
wagon. But a lantern was hung at the back step and a horse held 
in readiness for the ambulance's use at any hour of the day or 
night. Its value was apparent when calls averaged thirty a month 
that first winter and spring. Smartly painted, with FREEDMEN'S 
HOSPITAL and the square cross of succor plain to be seen on either 
side, and attended by uniformed internes with the same cross 
on their arm brassards, it was a distinctive equipage as it sped 
through Washington streets. 

A profound change had taken place. Freedmen's was trans- 
formed. Dr. Daniel Hale Williams might have been a long time 
getting to Washington, but the electric effect of his coming was 
manifest. A new order was everywhere apparent, and with the 
installation of system had come efficiency. No more loose ways. 
The dawdlers found him stern, but everyone thanked him for 
the improved meals and the nurses were grateful for new blankets 
and decent linens in their dormitory. Out in the Yard he had 
rosebushes set out. No one was allowed to touch them, but great 
bowls full were picked, by his orders, daily and placed in the 
barren wards and in the dining room and in the nurses' quarters. 

Everybody had to admit that the new boss who walked so fast 
was businesslike. All saw it, including the hospital barber, a medical 
student working his way. Dr. Dan had little time to linger and 
chat after a haircut or shave, but he had not forgotten that he 
had been a barber once himself. When Duvall Colley ventured 
to ask him for his photograph one day after cutting his hair, Dr. 
Dan gave it readily enough and added that anyone who could 
cut his stubborn hair satisfactorily was an excellent barber and 
no mistake about it. 

By the end of the year, the disgraceful mortality rate had 
tumbled to an unprecedented low. It was all due, Dr. Dan assured 
the Secretary of the Interior, to the quick intelligence, eager am- 
bition and faithfulness to duty of the student nurses who flitted 
busily about the wards in their long voluminous starched skirts, 
big aprons, and bigger leg o'mutton sleeves. 

Dr. Dan took opportunity at this point to remind Hoke Smith 

n6 Daniel Hale Williams 

that only a few of the many capable young colored women being 
graduated each year from the public schools could find jobs. 
Teaching and civil service did not offer enough opportunities, and 
prejudice kept them from entering the new field of stenography 
and typewriting, or from being clerks in stores or offices. So 
nurses' training, he said, was broadening the area of usefulness for 
a large number of hitherto unemployed girls. 

At the risk of boring his superior, Dr. Dan tried to give Smith 
his own enthusiastic view of the new trained nurse. Just as the 
modern medicoscientist has advanced beyond the rural quack, he 
said, the modern nurse has advanced beyond the old mammy 
whose ministrations have done quite as much as disease to popu- 
late the other world. The physician, he insisted, must depend 
almost as much upon the nurse as upon his prescriptions, and the 
nurse best fitted for the work is one who knows about the human 
system, its friends and its foes, its dangers and its blessings. Dr. 
Dan warmed up to a great pitch when he undertook to show how 
an informed, comprehensive knowledge must be combined with a 
woman's tender sympathy to give a physician the indispensable 
aide he must have. 

By the end of Dr. Dan's first year he might have crowed his 
victory from the housetops and no one would have contradicted 
him. But he continued to manifest a painstaking regard for the 
feelings of all individuals concerned. More particularly he sought 
to maintain an unbroken racial front before the whites. In his 
first annual report, while he set forth the changes and improve- 
ments in Freedmen's Hospital, he generously insisted that no 
account of the new condition would be true which did not prop- 
erly emphasize the valuable services contributed through the pro- 
fessional skill and executive ability of his predecessors, one and 
all He called especial attention to the efficiency and fidelity with 
which Dr. Francis had managed the hospital during his illness. He 
pointed out that the president of Howard University had taken 
a deep interest in the welfare of the hospital and added that the 
location of the medical department of Howard University within 
the hospital grounds had been of benefit. 


In short he attempted to draw- all into a position to receive 
credit while he played down his own role. "I can speak all the 
more freely," he said, "since my own management has been of 
such short duration as to render it unlikely that any one will be 
disposed to account for the improvements in the hospital service 
by attaching any undue credit to the present management." His 
purpose, he stated with charity and cheerful inaccuracy, 'was only 
that of carrying out and extending "the policy of progress and 
improvement pursued by my predecessor." 

With endless patience and persistent demonstration, Dr. Dan 
had won Howard medical faculty away from the self-focused 
Purvis. The white president Jeremiah Rankin asked Dr. Dan to 
give medical service to his family, and colored Dr. Shadd found 
he could be a delightful dinner guest. 


'Snatched from the Womb J 

FREEDMEN'S new ambulance filled an important and immediate 
need. Late one afternoon a call came in from Garfield Hospital 
to pick up an unconscious colored woman, a dwarf. Garfield said 
they had no room for her. When the interne arrived with the 
ambulance he found a note accompanying the woman saying she 
had been having convulsions for twelve hours and that she had 
been treated for "dropsy." She had another convulsion in the 
ambulance on the way back to Freedmen's. The frightened in- 
terne was glad to get her into the receiving room and turn her 
over to the assistant surgeon. 

"You know they had room," he said to the surgeon. "They just 
didn't take her because she was colored." 

"Just as well," replied the surgeon. "Now Dr. Dan can take 
care of her. But get him quick," he cried. "This isn't dropsy, it's 

Dr. Dan came running. He saw on the bed before him, breath- 
ing stertorously, still comatose, the distorted, disproportionate 
figure of a young woman only three feet nine inches tall. Her 
arms were fourteen inches long; her legs seventeen and bowed. 
She weighed, even in pregnancy, only seventy-two pounds. Blood 
was drooling from the side of her mouth; she had bitten her 
tongue during the convulsions. Her face was puffy, the muscles 


twitched. While her temperature was normal, her pulse was down 
to 60. 

Swiftly Dr. Dan took measurements. They indicated that a 
normal delivery could not be expected. 

Convulsions at childbirth, the editor of Obstetrics wrote not 
long after Dr. Dan was confronted with this case, are a "supreme 
test in concentrated crisis form of obstetrical judgment as well as 
resource ... we see death threatening from three directions: 
toxemia, convulsions and shock. We are so anxious in the short 
time available ere death may come, to advance our entire rescuing 
force anesthesia, toxic elimination, and delivery all at once, 
the result is often, in the struggle to apply each first, a therapeutic 
and surgical cross fire. Eclampsia is not an opponent for a novice." 

Fortunately Dr. Dan was no novice. However, he had here not 
only convulsions which had been going on for twelve hours, but 
a woman who could not by her very structure give birth. His as- 
sistant had already taken a catheterized specimen of urine and sent 
it for analysis; that was Dr. Dan's rule. Now, with the report be- 
fore him, Dr. Dan unfolded the situation to his assistants and in- 
ternes rapidly but methodically. 

"The specimen shows numerous pus cells," he said and ex- 
plained that this meant inflammation in the kidneys and for that 
reason he could not undertake a Caesarean section at once as he 
would prefer to do. At the word Caesarean several started with 
surprise, but he calmly assured them that he always preferred the 
abdominal route to the vaginal one if surgery had to be resorted 
to. It saves valuable time, he explained, and consequently lessens 
shock. Moreover the operator has direct control of the seat of 
hemorrhage and infection and also, Dr. Dan pointed out, he avoids 
the possibility of rupture of the uterus, perforations, lacerating 
wounds or other serious lesions. 

Dr. Dan's hearers were startled, with reason. He was voicing 
not the usual view of the day, but the advanced, progressive view. 
A dozen years before, when he was finishing medical school, the 
Caesarean operation as practiced in the United States was almost 
always fatal. When he attended the International Medical Con- 

no Daniel Hale Williams 

gress in. 1887, the conservatives were still against its use. Since 
that time, however, proper uterine sutures and wound closure had 
been developed. These, together with asepsis and more courage 
about tackling the operations earlier, before the mother became 
exhausted in prolonged and ineffective labor, were slowly turning 
the tide. Howard Kelly of Johns Hopkins was one of the earliest 
to achieve success and Dr. Dan had taken every opportunity since 
his arrival in Washington to go over to Johns Hopkins and watch 
Kelly operate. 

So he was prepared to meet this desperate case by performing 
a Caesarean section, in spite of the kidney condition, because, as 
he pointed out, the poor condition of the pelvic tissues, the size of 
the child, and the almost hopeless condition of the mother allowed 
no hope that she could be safely delivered without surgery. 

"I'll have to do a Caesarean," he said, "despite the infection." 
While he scrubbed his hands with laundry soap, he continued to 
discuss the case. 

"But why not enlarge the birth canal?" an interne^ asked. 

Dr. Dan lifted his hands from the soapsuds and immersed them 
in a hot strong solution of potassium permanganate. "I wouldn't 
even consider it," he said. He described how he had once assisted 
the late Dr. W. W. Jaggard in such an operation. Jaggard had 
separated the pubic bones by knife and chain saw. "I never have 
forgotten it," Dr. Dan said. "Women never recover from such an 
operation. They're invalids the rest of their lives." 

Another interne wanted to know if it would not be justifiable 
to crush the baby's skull or otherwise reduce the child's bulk by 
surgery in order to save the mother. "No, no," Dr. Dan replied, 
lifting his now purpled hands and turning to the pan of saturated 
solution of oxalic acid which would remove the exotic stain. "The 
child is in a bad position for that sort of thing," he said, "and be- 
sides I think it is morally and surgically wrong to kill a living 
child in a living mother. We must save both." 

Of course, he added, putting his now thoroughly punished 
hands into the waiting basin of bichloride of mercury solution, it 
was true Michaelis had managed to extract a child from a dwarf 


with a pelvis in the conjugate diameter of but an inch and a half. 
Barnes had done likewise. And Osborne performed the miracle 
through a pelvis but three quarters of an inch in the narrowest 
portion. But the babies were sacrificed. Those were desperate 
cases, performed before aseptic surgery was known. They would 
be universally condemned now, and should be. No, he said, the 
Caesarean in anything like a fair condition has taken the place of 
those mutilating and forced deliveries through the vagina. You 
could not call this a fair condition. Still he had no choice. 

Quickly he dipped his almost raw hands into a basin of sterile 
water and slipped them into his new Halsted rubber gloves. The 
patient was going into another convulsion. "We can't wait to fin- 
ish," Dr. Dan said to the assistant who was shaving and sterilizing 
the patient's skin at the site of operation. "We'd better risk infec- 
tion," he said, "than let her die before we start." 

As night closed in, the comatose woman was wheeled into the 
amphitheater before a few hastily assembled doctors, students and 
nurses, all agog with an excitement that was half fear and half awe. 
With lightning quickness Dr. Dan made an incision along the cen- 
ter of the patient's abdomen, beginning two inches above the pu- 
bis and ending two inches below the breastbone cartilage. As he 
worked, he talked in a quiet voice, master of the situation, steady- 
ing everyone around him. 

"I'm not putting clamps on the bleeding points in the abdomi- 
nal wall," he explained. "I want to encourage hemorrhage; it will 
lessen her blood pressure." 

He lifted the uterus containing the baby through the incision 
he had made and set it down on the abdomen, quickly surround- 
ing it with hot towels. Then he took three hasty stitches through 
the abdominal wall, closing it up snugly about the uterine neck. 
"These are only temporary silk sutures," he explained. Then he 
threw a rubber ligature around the uterus just above the abdomi- 
nal incision, leaving it ready to be tightened, he said, if emer- 
gency should arise. Now he could turn his attention to the baby. 

Swiftly he made an incision in the uterus. There was a sudden 
spurt. Dr. Dan's hands moved like darts of lightning. The hem- 

122 Daniel Hale Williams 

orrhage ceased. He grasped the baby by the feet and lifted out 
into the world an infant of full normal size and perfect anatomi- 
cal proportions. It weighed seven pounds twelve ounces and its 
head measured from 3^ to 4^ inches in its various diameters. A de- 
lighted murmur ran through the room and was quickly stilled. 

The emergency rubber ligature was never used. An assistant 
controlled the uterine arteries on either side with thumb and in- 
dex finger while Dr. Dan took the precaution of running a large 
glass tube through the cervix into the vagina and irrigated through 
the uterus from above downward with salt solution. He explained 
to the students that he was doing this to protect the patient from 
infection from below since there had not been time for proper 
antiseptic preparation. He then closed the uterine incision with 
three layers of sutures, the technique he had learned from Kelly. 
In forty minutes Freedmen's first Caesarean operation was over. 

The patient suffered no more convulsions after the operation. 
In sixteen hours she opened her eyes and began to talk and from 
that time her recovery was, in the words of the record, "unevent- 
ful." But not to the small dwarf mother. Proudly she tossed her 
baby over her shoulder and walked the wards showing it to ev- 
eryone an offspring almost as large as herself. 

Dr. Dan was constantly demonstrating now his ability to tackle 
a variety of complex cases. A young German farmer came from 
Maryland. He was encumbered by a izi-pound tumorous mass 
attached to the small of his back. It hung down a full fifteen inches 
a soft, pendulous, branching affair that caused its unhappy 
owner to suffer constant tension and fatigue. For eighteen years 
the hateful thing had been growing, starting as a small flat mole 
when the farmer had been a boy of seven. Dr. Dan kept the 
farmer in the hospital ten days, observing the tumor. Finally he 
operated, and the farmer walked out of the hospital a free man. 

About this time Dr. Dan removed a growth from the wrist of 
a young colored violinist, Daniel Murray, whose parents were 
prominent in Washington colored circles. The sixteen-year-old 
youth was afraid an operation might damage his bow arm, but 
Dr. Dan removed the growth and left the wrist unimpaired. The 


operation made Dr. Dan a lifelong friend of the Murrays and 
added to his ever-growing reputation. 

Physicians in Washington began to bring Dr. Dan their com- 
plicated cases. Even members of the Howard medical faculty swal- 
lowed their pride and asked for the master hand. Drs. Robert 
Reyburn and J. R. Wilder brought in a woman of thirty-seven 
who was to have a child. They had correctly diagnosed that a tu- 
mor was complicating her pregnancy. The woman had noticed a 
nodular swelling in the lower right abdomen some two years be- 
fore she became pregnant, but she had done nothing about it. 
With pregnancy and its subsequent displacement from the pelvis 
by the enlarged uterus, the tumor had increased steadily in size. 
By the time she was admitted to Freedmen's, her abdomen was so 
enormously distended and painful she was unable to stand on her 
feet. Her every breath was drawn with difficulty and her face 
looked pitifully anemic and haggard. 

Dr. Dan examined her and found there was no free fluid in the 
abdominal cavity. The tumor, huge and solid, filled the entire up- 
per half of the cavity, pushed up her diaphragm, and was respon- 
sible for her labored breathing. A urine test showed no untoward 
kidney condition. The patient had already borne several children 
without complications and the pelvic measurements were ade- 
quate. All this was to the good and Dr. Dan concluded to operate 
and remove the tumor and then to allow the pregnancy to con- 
tinue its full term. About six weeks remained before birth was 

The morning that Dr. Dan had set for the operation, Edith 
Carter, a student nurse, was coming off night duty. She recalled 
the occasion vividly, and years later told how she watched the 
crowd filing into the amphitheater. Tired and hungry "as she was, 
she decided to go in and watch with the rest. She was glad ever 
after that she did, for it turned out to be an operation historic not 
only in Freedmen's and in Washington but in the medical annals 
of the country. 

Edith Carter said she had never seen so many white doctors in 
Freedmen's before. She recognized James Tabor Johnson and 

124 Daniel Hale Williams 

swelled with pride that Washington's first white gynecologist had 
come to watch her race's hero. Dr. Dan, looking almost boyish in 
his short-sleeved white jacket and white trousers, was as cool and 
collected as ever, not turning a hair. She did not see how he did it. 

First he tried a conservative incision from the lower end of the 
breastbone to the umbilicus, but the tumor was too large for that 
opening. He extended his incision down to the pubis. Still he could 
not move the growth. The tumor, he told his watchers, was still 
connected by a muscular pedicle with the uterus where it had 
originated, but it was also now attached firmly and extensively 
both to the abdominal viscera and to the abdominal membranes. 
Large arteries and veins, he explained, were radiating over the 
surface of the growth, throughout its pedicle, and throughout all 
its attachments. 

It was a challenge such as Dr. Dan loved. Speedily, methodi- 
cally, he tied off one artery, one vein, after another, close to the 
greater curvature of the stomach and along the adhesions to the 
intestines. When all were tied off, he incised them at the expense 
of the growth. Finally he made the crucial incision into the thin- 
walled uterus that called for the nicest blade imaginable. Perspira- 
tion poured from every pore in his body so taut did he hold him- 
self, but his hand was steady. As he lifted his knife and everyone 
saw that the womb was still intact and the baby safe, a long re- 
leasing sigh filled the amphitheater. Dr. Dan placed both hands on 
the freed tumor, lifted the eighteen-pound mass and plopped it 
into the waiting basin. It filled the basin to the brim. 

But he was not finished. With the huge overlying growth out of 
the way, Dr. Dan discovered two more tumors of considerable 
size embedded in the lateral walls of the uterus. These growths 
wedged the uterus in tightly between the bony walls of the pelvis 
and extended through the uterine body into the cavity. With 
such obstructions in the lower uterine segment and the segment 
flattened by seven months' constant pressure, Dr. Dan saw at once 
that he would have to abandon his plan to allow the pregnancy 
to proceed to its full-term conclusion. Normal delivery was out 
of the question. 


"Gentlemen," he said, "I've no alternative, I'll have to do a 

Already drenched with sweat, he raced on, made an interior me- 
dian incision and "snatched the child from the womb." He handed 
it to the waiting nurse without lifting his eyes from the mother. 

And again he had to change his procedures. The uterine walls 
now exposed were, he saw, infiltrated with several additional 
growths. He informed his audience, who felt they would never 
see anything like this again, that he was going on to complete re- 
moval of the uterus. With no letup, he finally finished the triple 
operation and proceeded with the lengthy suturing of layer after 
layer of tissues, taking the last stitch as carefully as the first. 

As luck would have it, Edith Carter had to continue on duty 
again that night, but she did not complain for Miss Ebersole put 
her on with the new patient. All night Dr. Dan kept coming in, 
feeling the woman's pulse, watching over her, trusting nothing to 
the internes. "I never saw the patient again/' Edith Carter said 
later, "but she made a wonderful recovery and the baby was fine. 
Everybody talked about it." 

Other cases came to Freedmen's of pregnant women with tu- 
mors. One day an interne examined an incoming patient and said 
he felt the foetal heart. A staff doctor then examined her and ex- 
claimed, "Nonsense, it's only a tumor." But when Dr. Dan's judg- 
ment was appealed to, he said at once, "It's both, a baby and a tu- 
mor." And he was right. 

He seemed to have a miraculous ability to diagnose these cases 
of hidden complexity ~ complex still today when the press re- 
ports a suit brought against a surgeon who in operating to remove 
a supposed tumor made a mistake and inadvertently destroyed 
both the foetus and any future opportunity for the woman to 
have a child. But Dr. Dan told his students there was nothing un- 
canny about his diagnostic powers. You learn the human body, he 
said, and all will be plain to you. It just takes work. 

Dr. T. C. Smith, a white physician of Washington, who had 
witnessed both of Dr. Dan's complicated Caesarean operations, 

1 26 Daniel Hale Williams 

brought them to the attention of the Medical Society of the Dis- 
trict of Columbia. Dr. Smith said he felt very fortunate to have 
witnessed these operations and pointed out the unusual feature in 
both cases, that mother and child too were saved. Just two years 
previously, this same group had discussed the possibility of saving 
the mother as late as the third month of pregnancy, but without 
any hope of doing as much for the child. Dr. James Tabor John- 
son had said on that occasion that Dr. Murphy of Chicago had 
done It at the fifth month. "It's too bad," Dr. Johnson said, "we 
cannot always go on to viability of the child." Now Dr. Dan had 
done just that, saved the child as well as the mother in one case 
at the end of the full term of pregnancy and, in the other, within 
a month and a half of the end. 

Freedmen's Hospital enjoyed an almost 200 per cent increase in 
operative cases the first full year of Dr. Dan's incumbency. He 
performed all sorts of operations known only to the specialist to- 
day abdominal, brain and thoracic operations. Howard students 
had never seen the like. "Now," old Dr. Reyburn exclaimed with 
joy, and some ambiguity, "now, we can enter the abdomen with- 
out fear!" It was the joke of the campus, repeated on every hand. 

Out of 533 operations, only eight cases died -an amazingly 
low mortality rate. Only one case failed to improve. Dr. Dan made 
no secret of what happened to cases brought to his care. It had 
been Purvis's habit to excuse his high death rates. He always 
pointed out just how many deaths occurred within ten days after 
patients entered, as though to say these were so poor, so ill-cared 
for, and so near death when they arrived that, of course, many 
died; they were not his responsibility. Dr. Dan scorned such tac- 
tics. He published a plain balance sheet first, a classified alpha- 
betized list, then the exact result obtained with each case: cured, 
improved, unimproved, not treated, or died. Everybody now 
knew exactly what was going on. And they saw not only the 
numbers of difficult cases being handled, but the astounding drop 
in mortality figures. 

While Dr. Dan's great surgical victories were discussed by the 
District Medical Society, he himself was not invited to be present 


and join in the discussion. That exclusive body never entertained 
a doctor of any Negro blood, no matter how white his appear- 
ance or how high his attainments. At various times in the past, 
capable colored doctors, Shadd and Francis among them, had at- 
tempted for principle's sake to breach the wall; they had always 

Dr. Dan missed the professional give and take he had enjoyed 
in the medical societies of Chicago. He felt, too, that the colored 
physicians of the District of Columbia needed mutual conference, 
interchange of thought, and the presentation of the results of ex- 
perience. He well knew how important it was for the health and 
preservation of lives of the community that no doctors be ex- 
cluded from the consideration of public health matters. He reacted 
to the problem the same way he reacted to the need for a hospital 
that would train colored nurses and internes. 

"Why don't we start a medical society of our own?" he asked 
Dean Hood one day. "I mean a society that will open its member- 
ship to any doctor who wants to come in." 

Hood explained that actually some of them had tried to start 
such a society, about a dozen years before, but Purvis had held off 
and the whole thing had died. "But I'll go along with you, if you 
want to start up again," the dean said. "It's a good idea." 

So in January 1895 the Medico-Chirurgical Society of the Dis- 
trict of Columbia was revived by eight incorporators, three white 
and five colored. The colored doctors included Dr. Dan, Sam- 
uel R. Watts, Arthur W. Tancil, Robert W. Brown and James R. 
Wilder. The white men, all members of Howard medical faculty, 
were Dr. Robert Reyburn, Dr. Neil F. Graham and Dean 
Thomas B. Hood. If some of the lily-white doctors of the District 
would rather maintain their isolation than exchange ideas with a 
Negro, there were others who leaped at the opportunity to learn 
from one of the greatest surgeons the country had ever known. 
But Purvis still held aloof, as he had in 1884. 

In December of that same year, Dr. Dan helped with the for- 
mation of a national organization of colored doctors. Like its 
predecessor in the District of Columbia, the National Medical As- 

1 28 Daniel Hale Williams 

sociation which is still the only medical association in this coun- 
try open to many Negro physicians was made necessary by race 

The organization took form in Atlanta. Dr. Dan declined the 
presidency, but agreed to be vice-president. He gave what time, 
thought and energy he could to the new society. Also he talked 
it up among white doctors and won the support of some of them 
for the infant body, including his old preceptor, Henry Palmer. 
But Freedmen's kept him so busy that he had time for little else. 

More than improved training and medical societies was needed 
for the success of the colored doctor. There were still few col- 
ored physicians in the country. The Negro surgeon was almost 
never heard of. Howard Medical School was only an evening 
school attempting to train men who had to work all day long at 
any sort of job they could get to support themselves and pay for 
their education. Little wonder that Negroes themselves lacked 
confidence in medical men of their own color. 

If the Negro physician was to earn a livelihood after he had 
gained his hard-won training, if he was not to remain just a sun- 
down doctor, working at a manual job by day, practicing medi- 
cine in the evening, he must, Dr. Dan knew, have more patients. 
And he must get them by and large from among the colored peo- 
ple. Dr. Dan pondered how the darker-skinned population of 
Washington might come to know they had doctors of their own 
color and that they could trust them. 

Taking a leaf out of medical history, he did a daring thing. Like 
Andreas Vesalius, Belgian anatomist of the sixteenth century, he 
opened his Sunday surgical clinics to the public. Only the few 
seats in the last two or three rows were thus made available, too 
far away for the spectator to have much of a view. But it was 
possible for a person to sit in the scientific atmosphere and prove 
to himself that a colored man could operate. They could see col- 
ored assistants and colored nurses in attendance. 

Dr. Dan was unprepared for the flood of abuse poured upon his 
open clinics. They were un-Christian, it was claimed, they were 
held on Sundays. They were unprofessional, they admitted the 


public. They were indecent, men saw women operated on. With 
the distance and the enveloping sheets no one really saw much of 
anything, but these were the arguments of trouble-makers. The 
press took up the affair and shouted back and forth, pro and con. 
Some busybodies went to Howard's President Rankin, but he re- 
fused to interfere. 

Dr. Dan continued the clinics; the students had to have them 
and on Sunday, the one day they were not working. However he 
did put the student barber Colley at the door of the clinic and 
instructed him to turn visitors away. But the public was now well 
aware that at Freedmen's there was surgical service equal to any 
in the country and that a colored person could go there and be 
treated both skillfully and considerately. White people, too, heard 
of the daring deeds successfully carried out in Freedmen's amphi- 
theater. Some of them swallowed their prejudices and brought 
their difficulties to the famed Negro surgeon. 

As the months went by, Dr. Dan was able to report to the Sec- 
retary of the Interior that changes in method seemed to have 
wiped out the distinction existing in people's minds between 
Freedmen's Hospital and others in the District. The idea of being 
cared for at Freedmen's Hospital, he said, had lost some of its re- 
pulsiveness with the better class of people. In fact, he told Hoke 
Smith, there had been a large demand for admission from those 
willing and able to pay. As much as $8000 could have been col- 
lected had not an antiquated law prevented the admission of any- 
one not penniless. Could they have been admitted, the expenses 
of conducting the hospital would not have been increased, while 
the added income would have been a great help, either toward his 
budget, which was only $54,000, or to form the nucleus of a 
building fund. Very soon after his arrival he had put plans and 
estimates before the Secretary of the Interior for a new building. 
He pleaded that since the institution was the only one of its kind 
under control of the government, managed by colored physicians, 
where colored people were received without restriction and with- 
out embarrassment, it was in a distinct sense a national institution, 
located in the national capital, and should, therefore, "be made 

130 Daniel Hale Williams 

typical of all that is best and highest in the public mind toward 
this particular class of our fellow citizens." 

It was only fair, Dr. Dan continued, that Freedmen's should of- 
fer the three thousand people who came there annually, many of 
them from homes that afforded no comfort, no opposition to dis- 
ease, the best means for recovery. Freedmen's should be up to date 
in every feature of its construction, have the most approved ap- 
pliances, the best facilities for treating disease. The hospital ought 
to have a real pathological laboratory and a second operating 
room. It was much hampered for lack of telephone communica- 
tions between wards, ofHce, ambulance and police. It badly needed 
a sterilizer; he was using a wash boiler to sterilize his instruments, 
placing them on a tin tray perforated with holes and held above 
the steam by piles of bricks. Yet without these facilities they were 
obtaining results, he said, that were bringing bright young gradu- 
ates from some of the foremost medical colleges of the country, 
both white and black, to enter Freedmen's as internes. 

Dr. Dan told Hoke Smith that it was his belief the government 
could build, equip and maintain substantial brick structures at a 
cost but little in excess of the amount being expended to maintain 
the old, ill-adapted frame buildings in use. And when thus 
equipped with a proper plant, he wound up, Freedmen's should 
make no apologies nor offer any excuses for any defects or short- 
comings in its management. The government and the people, he 
said, had a right to expect practical results. There should be no 
exception to the general rule because the institution was managed 
by colored people. 

The Georgian must have -wondered where this man got all his 
faith and enthusiasm for Negroes. Aloud he merely said to Dr. 
Dan that such matters could not be rushed; he would see what he 
could do. But he never did. Other things pressed the Secretary 


Dr. Dan's Job in Jeopardy 

WHATEVER Dr. Dan accomplished at Freedmen's Hospital was 
achieved despite the crosscurrents of intrigue and the uncertain- 
ties of government action, not because things quieted down. He 
was beset constantly by a million plagues. One day he went out 
to Cedar Hill and told his troubles to Frederick Douglass. 

"My boy," the venerable Negro leader said when he had fin- 
ished his recital of frustration and discouragement, "you say you 
see what ought to be done. Well, hoping will do no good, now or 
any time." Douglass flung back his long white locks and looked 
quizzically into the downcast face of his young kinsman. "There 
is only one way you can succeed, Dan," he said, "and that is to 
override the obstacles in your way. By the power that is within 
you, my boy," he said, "do what you hope to do." 

Within a matter of months Douglass went to his grave. All too 
shortly the good Judge Gresham, long ill, succumbed to pneu- 
monia. Dr. Dan had lost two good friends and strong supporters. 

It seemed a time of death and change, with more and more re- 
sponsibility for Dr. Dan. His older brother Price died suddenly. 
Now Dan was head of the family. He brought Price back from 
New York to be buried beside their father in the family lot in 
St. Anne's Churchyard in Annapolis two Williamses among 
many Prices. As Dr. Dan stood beside the new-made grave with 
his mother on his arm and looked at the tombstones on that plot, 

132 Daniel Hale Williams 

he could not but think of the proud heritage that was his and de- 
termine to show no less courage than his forebears had shown. 

His new determination was soon called upon. Another struggle 
lay ahead of him. In June 1896 a joint Congressional committee 
was authorized to investigate the management of all charitable 
and reformatory institutions in the District, Freedmen's Hospital 
among them. The committee was not organized, however, until 
the following February and before that date came one of the most 
vituperative presidential campaigns the country had ever known. 
Cleveland split with his party over the free silver issue and Hoke 
Smith split with Cleveland. Smith resigned from the cabinet in 
August. This meant a new appointment to the Interior Depart- 
ment, but Dr. Dan had barely begun to feel out a new working 
relationship with Smith's successor when the November elections 
with their defeat of the Democrats made it clear that he could 
only look forward to still another change in March. 

The Republican victory encouraged the still smarting Purvis to 
undertake an energetic campaign for reinstatement more ener- 
getic than consistent. In one breath he claimed the recent place- 
ment of Freedmen's staff under civil service was a device of the 
outgoing Cleveland to protect his appointees. In the next he in- 
voked civil service status himself through the "old soldier" clause 
and applied to Cornelius Bliss, the new Republican Secretary of 
the Interior, for reappointment to the position from which, he 
said, he had been removed because of his well-known Republican 

Purvis's Republicanism was sounder than his ethics. Late in Feb- 
ruary 1897 the Washington Bee reported that a medical student 
had been discovered going round to the class due to be grad- 
uated in March requesting them to "sign a paper against Dr. Wil- 
liams" and saying that if they did not they would not get their 

No sooner was Purvis's plot nipped than another difficulty 
arose. Dr. Dan was anxious to ensure the permanency of his re- 
forms. So far he had had only Hoke Smith's verbal say-so and, 
with Hoke Smith gone, he asked for legislative confirmation of 


his reorganization of Freedmen's and his substitution of a non- 
salaried attending staff and internes for the former paid assistants. 
In this connection he asked that his own title be changed from the 
outmoded military appellation of surgeon-in-chief to the modern 
one of superintendent; he assumed that the position would remain 
a civil service one and that a satisfactory incumbent would not be 
removed except for cause. But the colored press, both Democrat 
and Republican, feared that civil service competition might even- 
tually lead to appointment of a white man. They attacked Dr. 
Dan for trying to "abolish" his own job when, they said, there 
were few enough desirable offices open to colored men and this 
was one of the best. 

Many a mouth was watering for the plum at Freedmen's; Pur- 
vis's was not the only one. Dr. Dan's first interne at Provident, 
Austin M. Curtis, who had often helped Dr. Dan scrub the oper- 
ating room and with whom he had shared those basket lunches 
delivered by his young sister Curtis let it be known he would 
accept the appointment if it were offered him. Inspired press com- 
ment said Dr. Curtis was "one of the most popular colored physi- 
cians in Chicago" and should not be kept from the job just 
because his wife had made herself useful to Mark Hanna, Republi- 
can chairman. Curtis may have excused his grab for his old chiefs 
job by telling himself Dr. Dan was bound to be let out anyhow, 
but he did not wait for the event or his wife did not let him 


Bliss may have felt that for a Republican Dr. Dan had been 
keeping bad company and should be punished, or, being a con- 
servative party man, he may have resented Gresham's apostasy in 
leaving the Republicans to support Cleveland, and passed the re- 
sentment on to Gresham's protege. At any rate he ordered a civil 
service examination held for the position of surgeon-in-chief of 
Freedmen's Hospital. 

The announcement was a bolt out of the blue to Dr. Dan for 
Bliss had assured him he was not going to ask for the resignation 
of any of the chiefs of units under his control. Dr. Dan went 
around to Bliss's office immediately, but was unable to see the 

134 Daniel Hale Williams 

Secretary. Instead he was told that Bliss understood he had re- 
signed and had accordingly ordered the examination to fill the 
vacancy. Dr. Dan hastened to see Senator James McMillan of 
Michigan, Republican chairman of the joint Congressional com- 
mittee appointed to investigate the District institutions. McMil- 
lan, nearing seventy, was not only wealthy and a respected force 
in the party, but he was a man of integrity and sound judgment. 
He listened carefully to Dr. Dan's predicament. Already he had 
been looking into matters at Freedmen's, preparatory to his com- 
mittee hearings, and had been impressed with the wonders re- 
cently accomplished there. When Dr. Dan had finished, he said, 
"Let me drop Bliss a note. No one will dare tamper with a letter 
from me." 

In a few days Senator McMillan reported to Dr. Dan that he 
had had an acknowledgment from Bliss, and the Secretary of the 
Interior had assured him he would make no change in Freedmen's 
management without consulting him. "There is no vacancy there 
now," Bliss had added, "Dr. Williams not having resigned." The 
civil service examinations, however, were held as ordered. Bliss 
had asked for an examination only in Chicago where Curtis lived, 
but the Civil Service Commission had added Newark and Wash- 
ington. Results were not immediately forthcoming and the gossip 
and innuendo, attack and counterattack went on in the colored 
press. Dr. Dan proceeded with his work as best he could on the 
meager assurance McMillan had secured for him. 

Dr. Dan's medical and surgical schedule was heavy, and he had 
to allot time for his many administrative duties. Nevertheless he 
did find time for some recreation. 

Once a week he ate dinner with his mother and sisters in King- 
man Place. Florence, so much like himself in looks and tempera- 
ment, was studying to be a kindergarten teacher on funds he sup- 
plied. He could not do much for Alice. She had outgrown the 
emotional disturbances that bothered her youth and was now well 
and strong, but she was not interested in books or studying. He 
got her a small job in the sewing room at the hospital and there 
she was content enough. 


Dr. Dan liked a tennis game, when he could get it, with Henry 
Furniss, his Uncle Peter Williams's step-grandson who had entered 
Freedmen's as an interne. Young Furniss was a personable, intelli- 
gent young fellow. One day during an unaccountable lull they 
managed several sets running, to the delight of their audience, 
Charles Smiley, the prosperous caterer, and his wife, who had 
come on from Chicago for a visit to the capital. Mr. Smiley said 
he thought Dr. Dan looked thin, and urged him to come back to 
Provident Hospital and take life a little easier. "Sometimes I wish 
I could," Dr. Dan answered. 

There were many persons in colored circles in the District who 
invited Dr. Dan to parties. They sought him out as much for his 
father's sake as for his own. These were men who had fought with 
the other Daniel Williams that bitter losing fight for civil rights 
after the war. Among these was well-to-do, consequential John F, 
Cooke on i6th Street. Dr. Dan went to the Cookes as often as he 
could, and sometimes to the Masons. C. M. C. Mason had long 
since forgiven his ex-apprentice for running away from shoemak- 
ing. In fact he had himself thrown over the family business for the 
church and was making a reputation as a preacher of the Gospel. 
Dr. Dan would tease pretty young Edith Mason and tell her he 
went for the doctor the night she was born, and Edith would toss 
her fair curls and blush. If he had had the time for it, and the in- 
clination, Dr. Dan probably could have dined out every night in 
the week. His would-be hosts were from all walks of life and 
from both races, and many were of mixed blood like his own. A 
good many evenings he spent with out-of-town visitors; his ac- 
quaintanceship was nationwide and everyone seemed to visit the 
capital at one time or another. 

Sometimes Dr. Dan's program was interrupted by the reappear- 
ance in the alcoholic ward of Paul Lawrence Dunbar. Ever since 
young Dunbar had come to the World's Fair to read his poem, 
"The Colored American," Dr. Dan had taken a warm interest in 
the shy, troubled youth who hid so much bitterness under his 
courtliness. Dunbar came frequently to wander through Cow 
Town, until, his heart breaking with the misery he found there, 

Daniel Hale Williams 

he would take to drinking and end up once more under Dr. Dan's 

Very occasionally Dr. Dan got clear away to New York City 
to see his boyhood chum, the Reverend Hutchins Bishop, and his 
namesake, young Shelton Hale Bishop. Reverend Bishop was mak- 
ing St. Philip's Church his life work, but had removed his wife 
and children to the purer country air at Armonk. 

Dr. Dan missed his week-end hunting. About the most strenu- 
ous exercise he got now was when he put on the natty cycling out- 
fit that set his nurses chattering and went off on his high wheel 
with William Warfield of the first class of internes. Warfield was 
another blue-eyed "Negro/' more Caucasian than African in ap- 
pearance. He was publicly credited with being a scion of the so- 
cially and politically prominent Maryland white family of that 
name. At the end of his year of interneship Dr. Dan had pro- 
moted him to a staff position as second assistant surgeon and later 
made him first assistant surgeon. In this position he was next in 
authority to Dr. Dan himself, and in Dr. Dan's absence from the 
city Warfield served as executive. Dr. Dan was giving him every 
opportunity for training and experience, took him to clinics at 
Johns Hopkins Hospital, and used him as assistant in operations 
performed outside as well as within Freedmen's. Many people 
criticized Warfield some of the student nurses were wary of 
him, called him a "heartbreaker" and a "backbiter," said he had a 
bad tongue, and some of the doctors thought him a pretty fool 
and mediocre medical man. Certainly he had twice failed to pass 
the Maryland licensing examination. But for once Dr. Dan seemed 
to have relaxed his rigid standards, for he continued to give War- 
field every chance to get ahead. 

Sometimes the two men would take Dr. Dan's surrey and in- 
vite Caroline Parke and Alice Johnson to go on a camera expedi- 
tion to the country. Henry Baker of the Patent Office had intro- 
duced Dr. Dan to the two schoolteachers. Miss Parke had merry 
blue eyes and Miss Johnson had handsome aloof brown ones. Both 
were light-complexioned like himself and Warfield. The quartet 
could go anywhere and pass unremarked as far as skin color went, 


and since they were all congenial their parties would probably 
have been more frequent had Dr. Dan's schedule permitted. 

Sometimes Dr. Dan would get to a social gathering only as it 
was breaking up. He would escort Miss Parke and Miss Johnson, 
who were neighbors, home under Washington's whispering elms, 
cool black tunnels on a spring evening and doubtless wished as he 
listened to the women's quiet, well-bred voices and their soft 
laughter, that he had more time for feminine company. 

Finally McMillan's committee began its long-belated hearings. 
Freedmen's Hospital was not called until near the end of the ses- 
sions, after most of the charitable and reformatory institutions of 
the District had been heard. 

It was a sharply contrasted, sharply opposed group of men who 
gathered in the stale hearing chamber late in April, and from the 
Senate documents we can reconstruct the scene that took place. 
Outdoors Washington was abloom with spring; inside the bright 
sun ferreted out the dust and cobwebs of forgotten corners. 
Of the committee of six, constituted equally from both houses and 
both parties, all were present except Congressman Alexander M. 
Dockery, Democrat from Missouri. With the exception of the Re- 
publican Congressman Mahlon Pitney, who was Dan's age and not 
to sit on the Supreme Court bench until years later, all were con- 
siderably older than Freedmen's forty-one-year-old surgeon. Most 
of the men were full-bearded and imposing in their stiff collars 
and frock coats. The elderly chairman McMillan reduced the ten- 
sion considerably by his quiet, unassuming manner, Senator 
Thomas S. Martin was a Virginia Democrat and Confederate vet- 
eran, about fifty. Senator Charles J. Faulkner, of the same age and 
party, was a West Virginian. Congressman Stephen Northway of 
Ohio was almost as old as McMillan and like him a Republican, 
but without McMillan's cool, intelligent objectivity. 

To the group Dr. Dan might seem like a young man, a young 
man called up on the carpet. But Dr. Dan was used to such pro- 
ceedihgs. His poise as a trial witness for the City Railway of Chi- 
cago had been notable and his personal contacts for a dozen years 

138 Daniel Hale Williams 

had included men of caliber equal to or greater than any of these. 
Besides, he welcomed this hearing. He had definite ideas about the 
position Freedmen's should occupy in the country at large and for 
the benefit of the colored people. He had laid them before the 
Secretary of the Interior more than once, but without securing the 
action he desired. The hearing would give him an opportunity to 
reach other ears. 

While the hearing was not directly related to his incumbency 
in office, practically speaking his job 'was at stake. But Dr. Dan 
was confident of his record. He had nothing to fear but con- 
spiracy. However conspiracy, he saw as he entered the hearing 
chamber, was there to be contended with. Purvis was present, and 
with him his close friend John R. Lynch, a trustee of Howard 
University. Also present were the editor of the friendly Bee, Cal- 
vin B. Chase, and the ministerial, white-bearded President Rankin. 

The air was vibrant, but the hearing began routinely. Senator 
McMillan turned the chair over to Senator Martin and contented 
himself with listening. The older man's intelligent eyes darted 
from one to another as he pulled occasionally at his long gray 
mustache. Dr. Dan took the stand and started to read a prepared 
statement answering the questions set forth in the agenda: Should 
Freedmen's remain under the Interior Department or be super- 
vised by the District? Should it continue its training school for 
nurses? Should there be a salaried hospital staff? 

He had scarcely started before he was interrupted by North- 
way. Like a gadfly the Ohio Democrat flew from accusing Dr. 
Dan of turning away a colored infant whose working mother 
could not care for the ill child to implying next that he was some- 
how personally at fault because Freedmen's cared for numbers of 
unmarried mothers from outside Washington and illegitimate ba- 
bies were abandoned in the District to become a burden on 
District charity. Northway charged Dr. Dan with carelessness 
in allowing those foreign cases to come to a hospital which he, 
Northway, said was set up to serve the indigent ill of the District. 

Dr. Dan flung back his head. "I don't know about that, sir," he 
said. "Freedmen's was originated to care for the poor that came 


from any place in the United States and it has cared for them for 
years. It was not a hospital originally, it was a camp." 

^ His voice grew deep and vibrant as he gave Northway a little 
history: "The poor refugee slaves were not asked where they 
came from. They came from all over the country and I think pa- 
tients should continue to do so. There are so few hospitals that 
will care for the colored. It will work a great hardship on poor 
people dying for want of competent medical and surgical care if 
they are compelled to pay on the outside for services equivalent 
to those given in this hospital." 

Dr. Dan went on and detailed the views he had so often set 
forth to the Secretary of the Interior. He minced no words and 
his straightforward presentation soon lifted the discussion out of 
the petty bickering of Northway to a level of human justice and 
compassion. When he had ceased there was a moment of silence, 
then Senator Faulkner leaned forward. The West Virginia Demo- 
crat's six-inch white beard and walrus whiskers jutted forward, 
too, his thumb and forefinger grasped the heavy gold watch 
chain that festooned his vest and escaped into view, thanks to his 
habit of buttoning only the top button of his coat. Faulkner was 
a friend of the Negro he had filibustered to prevent a vote 
aimed at abolishing legislation which protected the Negro voter 
in the South and he was impressed with this quiet, steady, white- 
skinned man who spoke up thus ably for "his people." 

"I think the training of colored nurses should certainly go on," 
Faulkner said, and asked, "Are you training colored doctors, too?" 

"Yes," Dr, Dan answered, "I am," and explained how with no 
increase in appropriation he now trained nurses and doctors, 
maintained an ambulance service, and conducted clinics open to 
both Howard University students and physicians of the city. The 
system, he explained, was the system used by Johns Hopkins, the 
Roosevelt, and all modern institutions. It was a system he was fa- 
miliar with before coming to Freedmen's. "I knew it would work," 
he said, "and it has. We pay no salaries for assistant doctors. It is 
not necessary." 

He wound up by saying, "I would especially like to ask the 

140 Daniel Hale Williams 

committee to examine into my methods and the work of the hos- 
pital and then from their examination to judge of the possibilities 
of the future." 

"But why," Faulkner wanted to know, "do you think the insti- 
tution could not be run the same way if it were placed under Dis- 
trict authority?" 

Here was the moment to speak frankly, and Dr. Dan did. "Be- 
cause," he answered, "I am afraid District control would result in 
the hospital's being thought of as a District institution and the 
care limited to District residents. Because I am afraid there would 
be a change in the national character of the educational services 
offered to nurses and internes." 

This was a service, he told them and he did not mince matters, 
that colored young people were deprived of elsewhere by cruel 
prejudice. Moreover, he added, there were already indications 
that under District control Freedmen's would become the object 
of interminable political scrambles. Already there had been an at- 
tempt to place the hospital under District control in order to put 
it into the hands of a local group who called themselves a Board 
of Incorporators. "I would be very glad, gentlemen," he said, "if 
you would see fit to look into this scheme." 

Purvis was almost apoplectic with restraint. Twice he had in- 
terrupted Dr. Dan and had been silenced. When he was finally 
called to the stand, his frustration and resentment burst their dam. 
"That staff Williams has is an imitation," he blustered, "just an 
imitation of other hospitals." There was no reason under the sun, 
he shouted, why the government should not pay the doctors at 
Freedmen's the same as it paid those at the Insane Asylum and he 
promised that if a Board of Incorporators was given power they 
would not take young men and put them in attendance upon pa- 
tients without an hour's experience. 

"If there is anybody on God's earth," Purvis cried, lachrymose 
with his own argument, "that should be experienced, it is a physi- 
cian who has to attend upon poor unfortunate sick people!" 

Purvis said he believed in training nurses, indeed he had been 
training them since 1876. The only difference he saw between his 


old mammies and this young upstart's nurses was that he had not 
hired a superintendent of nurses because the law allowed no 
money for that purpose and so he had drilled them himself per- 

Purvis was scarcely his own best witness. Finally he ceased 
shouting and sat down and Jeremiah Rankin was called to the 
stand. As the venerable old man took his seat, the committee 
looked with interest at the white president of the colored univer- 
sity. What would he say, to which of Freedmen's chiefs, past or 
present, would he cast his support? They sat there waiting and 
every one present knew that Jeremiah Rankin's word would have 
powerful weight upon the issue. His integrity as a churchman, his 
long incumbency of the pastorate of a distinguished congregation 
that had included many public men and government officials, his 
two decades as a trustee of Howard University before he became 
its president and the decade that had ensued since all insured 
that whatever his judgment upon these two doctors, both, after 
all, on his faculty, it was very likely apt to be the final judgment 
of this committee. The four colored men were taut; the white 
men gave close attention. 

Dr. Rankin began by explaining the fears the university trustees 
had had when it was rumored that Hoke Smith would make a 
change at Freedmen's. They had begged the Secretary of the In- 
terior, he said, not to appoint a man just because he was a Demo- 
crat. The old man stopped, embarrassed. "Excuse me, gentlemen," 
he said, "I should perhaps not use that word. But anyhow Mr. 
Smith assured us he would appoint a man who would never be 
removed for political reasons. I think he kept his promise." 

He had been very anxious, Dr. Rankin said, about his medical 
department and he had consequently been very observant of the 
changes made there. "Gentlemen," he said, "I heartily approve of 
them all." The room buzzed. The chairman pounded his gavel. 
Dr. Rankin continued steadily. 

"I am a minister, gentlemen," he said, "and I speak right out." 
And he told them that as he now saw it the idea for a Board of 
Incorporates had originated with the previous surgeon-in-chief 

142 Darnel Hale Williams 

who wanted to retain his place, understandably so, he had been 
there some fifteen to twenty years. And he, Rankin, had agreed 
to be one of the Incorporators because he felt kindly toward Pur- 
vis then, as he still did. The Incorporators had met once or twice 
and agreed that if they got control they would retain Purvis. But 
so far as Dr. Rankin knew, he said, no meeting of the Incorpora- 
tors had been called for some three years and he did not know by 
what authority Purvis was present to represent the Incorporators. 

He knew the change had been very trying to Dr. Purvis, very 
legitimately so. And it had been trying to himself too. And he 
could also see now that it had been trying to the new man coming 
to Freedmen's. Dr. Williams had had uphill work there at first, at- 
tempting to get along without friction. But Mr. Smith, had put a 
choice man in the job, a first-class surgeon, and he, Rankin, be- 
lieved that every change Dr. Williams had made had been justi- 

"And it no longer seems wise to me," the old president ended, 
"that the University should have any official control over the 

The questioning continued. Did the students of the university 
have the benefit of the hospital? They did. Suddenly Faulkner 
turned to Dr. Dan. "Have you any politics? " he asked. 

Dr. Dan was not to be caught. "No more," he answered, "than 
any other American. I have my own ideas about things." 

"Do you take part in politics?" Faulkner persisted. Dr. Dan re- 
plied that he had never been a pronounced politician, whereupon 
the Senator demanded to know how he had got to Washington. 

"Well," answered Dr. Dan, "I'll tell you. I was connected with 
a hospital in Chicago, the Provident Hospital, and on the board of 
trustees was that good man, Judge Gresham . . ." And he told 
them of the judge's suggestion that he apply for the job at Freed- 
men's and his subsequent follow-up of it. No sooner had Dr. Dan 
ceased speaking than Lynch was on his feet. 

John R. Lynch had long been a Republican wheel horse. He had 
lost his job as Fourth Auditor of the Treasury when Cleveland 
came in. His private fortunes had suffered too; his wife, a beau- 


tiful New Orleans Creole, had left him for a white man. In both 
misfortunes, Purvis had been Lynch's sympathetic friend and now 
Lynch was present to return the service. He was a formidable op- 
ponent and appeared with the more aplomb on the present occa- 
sion because he still had hopes that his recent "pleasant talk," as 
the press had put it, with McKinley would bear some tangible 

"As one of the trustees of Howard University," Lynch said, "I 
should like to make one remark. I favor any plan that will take 
this hospital out of politics. It is in politics now, that is how Dr. 
Williams got it." 

"Is Dr. Williams a Democrat?" asked Faulkner. 

"The fact is," Lynch replied with relish, "there has been a good 
deal of doubt during the last four years as to just what consti- 
tutes a Democrat." But Faulkner would not be twitted by a dou- 
bly black Republican. "I have not known of any doubt," he de- 
clared. "Do you know of this young man's ever having voted the 
Democratic ticket?" 

"I only know what I was told," Lynch said. 

"Who told you?" asked the Senator. 

"Judge Gresham," was the reply. 

"What did he tell you?" persisted Faulkner. 

Lynch got to his point in his own way. "As Dr. Purvis's per- 
sonal friend," he said, "I did not want him turned out. So I ap- 
proached Judge Gresham myself and Judge Gresham told me 
that he did not know Dr. Purvis, had no interest in him and had 
not recommended that a change be made, but that the Secretary of 
the Interior had informed him he was going to make a change be- 
cause Dr. Purvis had made a political speech the Secretary did not 
like and since a change is going to be made, said Judge Gresham, 
1 took the liberty of recommending Dr. Williams not only be- 
cause he is competent and qualified' all of which may be true 
* but because he is in harmony with the Administration. He fol- 
lowed me in voting for Cleveland.' " With this thrust, Lynch 
again declared that Freedmen's was a continual source of political 
contention. "We ought to remove that temptation," he said with 

*44 Darnel Hale Williams 

great righteousness, "and place the appointing power either with 
the Incorporators or the District Commissioners." 

As soon as Lynch finished, Dr. Rankin asked for the stand 
again. He deprecated the turn the discussion had taken. "This is 
a kind of confessional, Mr. Chairman," he said. "Now Brother 
Lynch will excuse me for talking frankly here. This Brother who 
is so adverse to having things go into politics waited on me and 
spent the evening going over the matter. When I told him my 
conclusions, that I did not think it would be wise to reappoint 
Dr. Purvis, or to appoint Incorporators, he then threatened to 
bring this charge of politics and said, moreover, that he himself 
was a politician and he would have a change made on political 
grounds. That's what he said." 

"Now Dr. Rankin," cried Lynch, "let me interrupt you " Be- 
fore the Negro politican could go any further, the chairman 
brought his gavel down. 

"Gentlemen," Martin said, "our time is up. We have nothing to 
do with your misunderstandings. We want to get at the facts and 
I think we have done so. ... The committee is adjourned." 

Perhaps in the end Dr. Dan would win out with the commit- 
tee. Certainly President Rankin had stood by him magnificently. 
But it would be months before the issue would be settled. He 
needed a rest and he wanted to get as far away as possible. His 
good friend Charles Bentley, Traviata's husband, four years a 
widower, came on from Chicago and the two men went off for a 
quick trip to Europe. By June they were back. 

Dr. Dan was soon filling as heavy an operating schedule as ever. 
The matter of his tenure seemed no longer a matter of conjecture, 
at least between himself and Bliss. Bliss assured McMillan he would 
await the report of his committee, expected in December, and 
when the Civil Service Commission reported a list of eligibles was 
now ready, he informed them there was no vacancy to be filled. 
Dr. Dan had won out against the attacks of both Purvis and Cur- 
tis and could now continue his w-ork in peace. 

Then suddenly on the first of February, a year after the Repub- 
lican administration began and with it the sniping for his job, Dr. 


Dan resigned. McMillan's report was still not ready and there 
seemed no reason, with his victory won, why he should do so. 
But he wrote Bliss that the work he had come to do "my ardent 
desire to give the patients the benefit of modern methods . . . 
young colored men and women the opportunity to become 
trained in medicine, surgery and nursing ... to conduct Freed- 
men's on strictly business principles" these things were finished 
as far as they could be finished in the ill-adapted, dangerous build- 
ings in use. Until Freedrnen's had a modern plant, wholly satis- 
factory results could never be accomplished, he said. And so he 
was resigning to resume his professional and business interests in 
Chicago. He thanked the Interior Department for its "generous, 
valuable and prompt assistance in the transaction of public busi- 
ness" and now stood ready, he said, to give his successor all the 
information he could in regard to the work. 

Bliss was taken by surprise. It -was six weeks before he ap- 
pointed a successor and two months before Dr. Dan -was released. 
Bliss asked the Civil Service Commission to certify their eligibles. 
The Commission submitted its list: Dr. Charles I. West, Washing- 
ton, with a grade of 91.50; Dr. Austin M. Curtis, Chicago, 79.10; 
and Dr. James A. Wormley, Newark, 76.05. All were colored 
men. Bliss appointed, not West of the remarkably high standing, 
but Curtis whose wife had made herself useful to Mark Hanna, 
chairman of the Republican National Committee. In accepting his 
appointment, Curtis acknowledged the political character of his 
appointment. "I assure you," he wrote Bliss, "I appreciate this rec- 
ognition; it is a compliment paid the Colored people of Chicago 
who are always identified with that party which champions and 
administers a noble patriotism . . ." 

Now Freedrnen's was indeed a political football. 


Alice Johnson 

FOR months the Washington colored newspapers had covered the 
Freedmen's Hospital controversy in detail. Dr. Dan's name ap- 
peared in almost every issue. Whatever he did was news 
whether he went off for a week end, performed a spectacular op- 
eration, or appeared before a Congressional committee. 

On April 2, 1898, two days after Dr. Dan left Freedmen's Hos- 
pital, the Colored American reported that the redoubtable race 
protagonist, Ida B. Wells-Barnett, would address the mothers of 
the 1 9th Street Baptist Church on the moral training of the 
young. . . . Daniel Murray, of the Library of Congress staff, had 
entertained a distinguished delegation of Scottish Rite Masons at 
his home on S Street where salads, oysters, creams, jellies, wines, 
etc., were bountifully served. . . . Professor Booker T. Washing- 
ton of Tuskegee Institute had spent a few hours in the city en 
route elsewhere. . . . But the item that made every reader gasp 
was the laconic three-word heading: 


And when startled readers saw the picture of the proud, re- 
served beauty, Alice Johnson, their astonishment was magnified. 
So those carriage rides and camera expeditions and those walks 
home from social gatherings with the two schoolteachers had 
meant something! But not many people had guessed it. 

If looks were everything, few could question the forty-two- 


year-old surgeon's choice of the exquisite Miss Johnson, though it 
had long been common consent that her seclusion from society 
and her immersion in her school teaching meant she had decided 
never to marry. At thirty-nine, her beauty had become a tradition. 
As much as fifteen years before, children had stood entranced 
when Miss Alice descended from the horse cars at the corner of 
4i and E Streets, S. W., and mutely watched her walk to the 
home she shared with her mother on the canal-surrounded Island 
at the foot of the Capitol. Even now, on the few occasions when 
she still appeared at gatherings, people saw no dulling of her 

Alice Johnson was small and dainty, only five feet three, but, 
Caroline Parke said, "matchlessly formed." The Victorian mode 
seemed calculated to demonstrate her charms and her old friend 
remembered just how she looked. Her close-fitting red princess 
coat disclosed to consummate advantage her perfectly propor- 
tioned figure. Her long slim neck carried her large black velvet 
hat proudly and her modish willow plumes waved graciously to 
and fro as she daintily picked her way over the uneven mossy 
brick sidewalks, lifting sweeping skirts to reveal the smallest foot 
and the prettiest ankle in the District. Her photographs show an 
oval face, its rather high brow softened by loosely curling dark 
bangs over beautifully arched long eyebrows. Her eyes were 
dark, too, large and slightly somber; her nose was daintily pointed; 
while a long upper lip tried to hold firm a tremulous, tenderly 
bowed mouth. But this delightful face, in which the high color 
came and went in delicate olive cheeks, was always heavily veiled, 
according to Sally Fisher who had the story from her mother 
Cora Fisher. Only so protected could she escape unwelcome com- 
ment as she passed through the unsavory neighborhood of Mott 
School where she taught. 

When Dr. Dan married Alice Johnson people had almost 
ceased to talk of her past. But her mother's death six months be- 
fore and now this surprising marriage set every tongue wagging. 
Alice Johnson did not bear the distinguished name of her white 
father and to very few even of her most intimate friends did she 

148 Daniel Hale Williams 

ever mention his name. When words of the scandalmongers 
reached her ears the charge that she did not even know the 
name of her father she pulled her long upper lip down hard and 
remained proudly silent. If she wore his gifts, a gold French 
locket, an Italian brooch, or long dangling earrings from London, 
she always said she had bought them herself. The world-famous 
sculptor, Chevalier Moses Jacob Ezekiel, however, was neither 
knighted nor otherwise distinguished when his daughter was born. 

Son of a wealthy Richmond merchant, young Ezekiel had 
grown up in an orthodox Jewish household. His father let no oc- 
casion pass by when he might protect or advance Jewish interests. 
Once when President Tyler referred to the American nation as a 
"Christian people," Jacob Ezekiel upbraided the country's chief 
executive for the impropriety of naming the whole by a part, and 
John Tyler in a lengthy letter apologized as best he could. When 
Virginia passed Sunday closing laws, Jacob protested the infringe- 
ment of his freedom so vigorously that the law was amended. He 
was a stern father for a sensitive boy. 

Perhaps Jacob Ezekiel's passion for justice to one minority 
group did not extend to another. More probably he never knew 
his young son had fathered a baby by the beautiful mulatto house- 
maid. Isabella Johnson's Spanish-like beauty and her sweet docil- 
ity won the boy's heart. But what could he do a youth writing 
poetry, trying to paint, rebelling against the dull trade of his fa- 
ther and uncles? He had no money of his own, no way to support 
a family even if the law would permit a marriage between white 
and mulatto, which it would not. He went off to his military 
training in turbulent '61 no doubt with a heavy heart. 

When the Civil War was over, Moses Ezekiel's daughter Alice 
was already six years old. With her child, Isabella probably was 
swept on the great tide of hapless refugees out of burning Rich- 
mond and into the national capital. At any rate she was living in 
Washington by the time Alice entered grade school, earning a liv- 
ing for the two of them with her fine needlework. The Ezekiel 
fortune had fallen with Richmond. Young Moses returned with 
the defeated Greys to try again to be a merchant, but he hated 

Alice D. Johnson as a young girl 
about 1875 

Dr. Daniel Hale Williams, 1883 

Alice Johnson as a teacher at Mott School about 1890 


trade as much as ever, and soon he turned, willy-nilly, to paint- 
ing, and a little later to sculpture. Robert E. Lee and his wife en- 
couraged him, as did others. Shortly he was off for Europe. For 
several years he studied and lived on next to nothing. Finally he 
won a prize that gave him two years in Rome. 

In '74, when Alice was fifteen, Ezekiel returned to America and 
secured his first big commission. It was an order from the Jewish 
organization, Sons of the Covenant, for a marble group to depict 
Religious Liberty and was to be ready for the Centennial Expo- 
sition in two years. He returned to his studio in Europe to execute 
his sketch and that same autumn Alice entered the normal school 
department of Howard University. 

Two years later the Sons of the Covenant had their marble 
group and Ezekiel had his money. Almost immediately these 
words appeared on Alice Johnson's record at Howard University: 
"Excused three weeks before close of term to go to England." 

At last EzekiePs feet were on the path to success. He could af- 
ford a home now with the woman he loved and their child, and 
in Europe nothing would stand in the way of his marriage. 

According to Caroline Parke, Isabella took Alice and went to 
Europe, expecting never to come back. But somehow things were 
not right. For seventeen years she had made her own life in Wash- 
ington's unfashionable southwest quarter, unfashionable even for 
colored people. Moses Ezekiel, despite his letters and occasional 
visits, was a stranger now. The sophisticated circle in which the 
artist moved, the alien race, the alien country all left her insup- 
portably lonely. She took her daughter and returned to America. 

Ezekiel persisted with his sculpture and won innumerable 
prizes, gold medals, ribbons of merit, and titles. His art followed 
the choicest classical lines and an age that cared greatly about fin- 
ish and smooth surface delighted in his skill. His works were wel- 
comed in the Sans Souci palace, Berlin, in Westminster Abbey, in 
Rome and Tivoli, and in a dozen schools and cities in his native 
country. Among the portrait busts for which he became famous 
was one of his friend, Franz Liszt. He spent summers with Liszt 
and the Cardinal Gustave von Hohenlohe in the Villa d'Este at 

150 Daniel Hale Williams 

Tivoli. Winters, in Rome, the Queen Mother, the royal house- 
hold and all the rest of the haut monde were his frequent guests 
in the unusual studio he made for himself in the gigantic walls of 
Diocletian's Bath. Here he lived on after Victor Emmanuel 
knighted him Chevalier and Humbert made him Officer of the 
Crown of Italy. 

His Friday open house drew artists, literary men and women, 
and eminent strangers from all parts of the world. His guests 
found him a rare personality. They called him a gifted, noble- 
hearted gentleman. They spoke of his simplicity and greatness, a 
man who welcomed all alike, famed and lowly, young students, 
people unknown but valued for some gift of character and heart. 
They talked of his helpfulness and generosity to the poor. Strange, 
they said, that a man of such depth of feeling should never marry. 

Back in their Washington home, then at 3 1 3 F Street, S. W., the 
mother and daughter resumed their quiet life together. Isabella 
Johnson seldom went out. Her position was anomalous and she 
preferred to devote herself to her daughter. With almost animal 
fierceness she warded away harm from this beautiful, adored girl, 
so much like herself as to figure, so much like her father as to face 
and feature and soft dark locks. Alice Darling she had called her. 
The girl wrote Alice D. Johnson on her school papers and red- 
dened when she was asked her middle name. 

From the time she was small, Alice had to bear the taunt of be- 
ing nameless. Her only retort was to hold her back straight, her 
chin up, and to look scornfully at her tormentors. 

Silence was her weapon. She answered no questions, offered no 
explanations. She went off to Europe and came back and never 
discussed that glamorous trip, even to so good a friend as Anna 

Alice was not a particularly good student. Her highest marks 
were in history, moral philosophy, geography and Latin. But she 
earned sadly low grades in arithmetic, geometry and algebra. In 
astronomy, botany and rhetoricals she did somewhat better. In 
June of '77 she was graduated. The next fall she began to teach in 


the first grade of Mott School, out beyond the District boundary, 
on Trumbull and 6th Streets, only a few squares from Freedmen's 
Hospital. Mott School was fairly new then, and well equipped. Its 
teachers were all normal school or college graduates. Alice's 
beauty, her taste in clothes and books, in music and art, won her 
good friends among intellectual young women of her own sort, 
mostly young women of mixed blood like her own Nettie 
Langston, daughter of the Reconstruction Congressman, John M. 
Langston, of Virginia; Betty Cox, who soon married Dr. John R. 
Francis; Anna Evans, who married the scholar Daniel Murray; 
and blue-eyed Caroline Parke Caddie, Alice called her whose 
white blood had come from the Parke Custis manor house, but 
who, like Alice, preferred not to speak of painful subjects. 

Even when Alice was grown up and earning her living, her 
mother supervised her carefully. When Alice had to come home 
after dark from her night school classes, her mother insisted she 
must have an escort. Alice was devoted to her mother and passion- 
ately resented any slight directed at her. Once when she was in- 
vited to a fashionable wedding and her mother was not, Alice re- 
fused to go. Loyal, silent, proud, she held her head high and 
brooked no action that might reflect on the only person in the 
world she had to love. When suitors flocked to her door, as they 
did, she expected the same loyalty from them. 

Many sought Alice Johnson's hand. She had her pick of the 
Howard University campus, the Freedmen's staff, and the many 
ambitious young Negroes who poured into the capital eager for 
opportunities in government civil service. Rejected by Alice, her 
suitors married other girls, and the girls found they had no alterna- 
tive but to forgive a first love so fabulously beautiful. 

Finally, however, Alice made her choice. She settled upon 
Garnett Baltimore, a young engineer, son of one of the old mulatto 
families of Albany. He was handsome, well off, and altogether 
just right for the reigning beauty. But shortly after their engage- 
ment had been announced, Mr. Baltimore accepted an invitation 
to a party where Alice was not invited. He may have been softened 
up for this defection by the gibes of the hostess. Alice Parke's 

152 Daniel Hale Williams 

tongue was sharper and her heart harder than those of her cousin, 
Caddie. Alice Parke gloried that her white blood had come to her 
legitimately, if somewhat circuitously. "It's a shame," she cried, 
"that so distinguished a man as Garnett Baltimore should bestow 
his fine old name on that nameless Alice Johnson." 

The day after the party, Caddie went to see Alice Johnson. 
Caddie found her friend with set face packing up Mr. Baltimore's 
gifts. No matter who came courting after that, she turned a deaf 
ear. She had gone to dancing class with Caddie at Marini's Hall. 
But now she was no longer seen at the winter assemblies and the 
germans nor on the summer boat trips down the Potomac nor 
at the euchre parties she had loved. Her pleasures became the 
Chautauqua Circle, the Ingersoll lectures, the appearance in the 
city of Sarah Bernhardt, Ellen Terry, Sir Henry Irving. At home 
she did needlework with her mother and took lessons from Shera- 
ton in china painting. She had excellent taste and not a little 
talent, as the daughter of Chevalier Ezekiel should have had. Vaca- 
tions she went to Annapolis to visit the Bishop girls, sisters of 
Dr. Dan's boyhood friend Hutchins Bishop. Occasionally she 
took a trip to Atlantic City with Mary Robinson Meriwether, an 
Oberlin graduate who had interests congenial to Alice's. In time 
most of Alice's friends married. When Christmas came around, 
she sent them some prettily bound volume, like Pastels in Prose, 
and inscribed it in her restrained, perfect Spencerian hand. 

Twenty years after her graduation from Howard University, 
Alice Johnson was still teaching at Mott School. But Mott had 
grown old and shabby and out of date; the Commissioner's re- 
ports admitted the ventilation was not proper, the water closets 
only fair, and the light poor. Two decades in the slowly deterio- 
rating structure, located in an unsavory district, would have dis- 
couraged anyone with less force of character than Alice. She was 
now teaching the seventh grade and serving as assistant to the 
principal. When any of the other teachers fell ill, she was quick 
to offer her help in catching up with grading of papers. She tried 
to inspire her pupils to better things. One morning after she 
had heard a concert by Edward Remenyi, she took occasion to 


try to recreate for a twelve-year-old boy the spell of the evening 

"I was skeptical of the musicianship of any white man," Clar- 
ence Cameron White recalled years later when he had become 
a noted composer and violinist in his own right. "I asked Miss 
Alice if Rernenyi could play as well as Will Marion Cook and I 
can still hear her laughing." Miss Alice finally was able to persuade 
Clarence White to go hear the famous Hungarian artist and the 
boy had an unforgettable experience, one from which he later 
dated the beginning of his own serious study of music. 

By the middle '905 the young internes at Freedmen's Hospital, 
a stone's throw from Mott School, regarded Miss Johnson as a 
confirmed man-hater. They never approached her, though they 
admired her beauty. 

One interne, more bookish than the rest, the same Henry Fur- 
niss who played tennis with Dr. Dan, discovered that Miss Johnson 
was a good companion with whom to read and discuss the latest 
books. She might be a little prim, he admitted, tied up in herself, 
serious but he was serious too. His interneship was just begin- 
ning, and it would be years before he could think of marrying. 
Harry Furniss left romance out of his plans for the time being 
and found in the older Alice Johnson a safe comrade. He approved 
of the way she hated people who gossiped. He approved of the 
strait-laced life she led with her mother. 

Isabella Johnson was aging now; her hair was growing white 
where it lay in soft waves on her brow. She would bring in the 
cake and wine when she thought the evening was getting on and 
that young men callers should soon be going home. Harry Furniss 
knew the signal. 

Alice Johnson seldom went out now, but when she did Dr. 
Dan always seemed to turn up in time to escort her and Caddie 
Parke home. She asked Harry Furniss about him. He seemed dig- 
nified and reserved, but could he be trusted? Harry Furniss per- 
suaded her that Dr. Dan, his kinsman, was entirely honorable. 
So Alice went riding in Dr. Dan's surrey, with Caddie and the 
assistant surgeon, William Warfield. 

154 Daniel Hale Williams 

When Alice's mother fell ill, she consulted Dr. Dan. It was 
cancer. He would operate, he told her, and do his very best. Alice 
could not bear the thought of the hospital, and he reassured her 
on that point. Alice and her mother were living then in the new 
home she had bought at 1944 pth Street, just a block from Cad- 
die. It was to the 9th Street house that Dr. Dan came with his 
young assistants, Mitchell and Warfield, and operated. He did 
not tell Alice it was hopeless, and at least it was temporary 

Soon after the operation, in May of '97, Dr. Dan had gone to 
Europe. After his marriage people wondered if that quick, hurried 
trip had not been to see Alice's father, but neither Dr. Dan nor 
Alice ever told. By late summer Isabella's condition worsened 
rapidly. On her deathbed, said Caroline Parke, she begged Dr. 
Dan to care faithfully for her daughter always, and Dr. Dan gave 
his ready promise. 

The day of Isabella Johnson's funeral, a letter came to the 9th 
Street home. As Caddie Parke carried it upstairs to Alice's room, 
she saw it bore foreign postage. She handed it to her friend and 
considerately turned away. Alice read the letter, then threw her- 
self in Caddie's arms. Broken with grief, her defenses down, for 
the first time in her life she mentioned her father to her friend. 

a Oh, Caddie," she wept, "he says he hopes Mother will recover." 

Life had taken one parent from her. Now death had taken 
the other. She went into deepest mourning and would not con- 
sider marriage under six months. Meantime Dr. Dan's sister Sally 
came to stay with her. 

The house on 9th Street was sold. When Alice Johnson walked 
out of it a bride, she would be leaving it forever. The wedding was 
to be a quiet affair. Because of her mother's recent death, Alice 
wanted to wear black. But her dressmaker, a fashionable modiste 
from Boston, put her foot down and would not hear of gowning 
a bride in black. The two women compromised on a navy blue 
suit, with figure-fitting three-quarter-length coat, a navy blue 
hat, and white gloves for the ceremony, dark ones to change to 
for traveling. 


Caddie played Mendelssohn's Wedding March for her friend. 
Mrs. Fannie Middleton was matron of honor. Milton M. Holland, 
member of the school board and uncle of Betty Cox Francis, 
stood in her absent father's place and gave her away. Dr. Rankin 
read the marriage service, assisted by Bishop W. B. Derrick of the 
African Methodist Church. 

There were not more than a dozen guests. "Please tell them 
not to throw rice at us," Alice pleaded. But little Sarah Meri- 
wether remembered that they did, and it seemed the only gay 
note in a solemn affair. Sarah stood goggle-eyed on the curb 
watching the ex-chief of Freedmen's hand his bride into the car- 
riage and then step briskly up after her. Dr. and Mrs. Daniel Hale 
Williams were off for Chicago. 

The new Mrs. Williams, said the Colored American that eve- 
ning, is a lady of sterling worth, well equipped for the responsible 
duties she has now assumed. But privately, here and there over 
Washington, others said the former schoolteacher would never 
make a doctor's wife. Her freezing manner, they said, will drive 
all his patients clean away. Others, perhaps the disappointed, were 
sure Alice was not in love. Some even said Dr. Dan was not in 
love either; he really loved Edith Mason, they said. That fair- 
skinned disdainful butterfly tossed her head and cried, "She can 
have him and his money too." 

Dr. Dan's friend Paul Lawrence Dunbar heard the news. He 
himself had recently married. Taking up his pen, the poet wrote: 


Step me now a bridal measure, 
Work give way to love and leisure, 
Hearts be free and hearts be gay 
Doctor Dan doth wed 

Diagnosis, cease your squalling 
Check that scalpel's senseless bawling, 
Put that ugly knife away 
Doctor Dan doth wed today. 

156 Daniel Hale Williams 

'Tis no time for things unsightly, 
Life's the day and life goes lightly; 
Science lays aside her sway 
Love rules Dr. Dan today. 

Gather, gentlemen and ladies, 
For the nuptial feast now made is, 
Swing your garlands, chant your lay 
For the pair who wed today. 

Wish them happy days and many, 
Troubles few and griefs not any. 
Lift your brimming cups and say 
God bless them who wed today. 

Then a cup to Cupid daring 
Who for conquest ever faring, 
With his arrows dares assail 
E'en a doctor's coat of mail. 

So with blithe and happy hymning 
And with harmless goblets brimming, 
Dance a step musicians play 
Doctor Dan doth wed today. 

Whatever reservations and doubts a few Washington acquaint- 
ances might have about the marriage, everything started off well 
in Chicago. Old friends were overjoyed to welcome back their 
beloved Dr. Dan. That he brought with him a beautiful bride 
only added a happy thrill to the occasion. The disappointed 
mothers with marriageable daughters swallowed their chagrin 
and joined with the rest in paying tribute to their hero who had, 
said the press, "achieved national political and medical distinction." 
Charles Smiley, delighted to have his old friend back, turned 
his expert catering hand to the homecoming reception. The pth 
Battalion Armory at 3yth Street and Wabash Avenue was chosen 
for the event. In but a very few days war with Spain would be 
declared. Almost every night the Armory resounded to marching 


feet. But for the occasion of Dr. Dan's welcome home It was 
transformed by fragrant flowers, said a newspaper, "into a temple 
of peace." 

The reception [according to the reporter] was one of 
the most successful functions of the season. Music, dancing 
and refreshments contributed to the enjoyment of the 
evening. . . . Melodies from sweet-voiced mandolins ema- 
nated from behind a row of palms. Conventional attire was 
imperative for the men. The gowns worn by the women 
were elaborate. Many were Parisian creations. It was easily 
one of the most exclusive events ever given by the leading 
colored people of Chicago. The welcome extended to Dr. 
and Mrs. Williams was one which both appreciated. They 
received congratulations from 8:30 to 10:30 when a collation 
was served. Mrs. Williams wore a rich white brocade 
trimmed with pearls and liberty silk. She had diamond 
ornaments and carried a bouquet of bridal roses. Mrs. C. 
H. Smiley, the hostess, wore a novelty silk with tulle bodice 
and diamonds. Mrs. Lewis Warren, who assisted Mrs. Smiley 
in receiving the guests, wore black silk with red silk bodice. 

On the reception committee was James Madden, who had so 
faithfully aided in the founding of Provident Hospital; the chair- 
man was that long-time social arbiter of Chicago colored society, 
Julius N. Avendorph. Harry Anderson did not come. Perhaps 
he was feeling too old for parties. But young Bertie, a tall, broad- 
shouldered youth, planning to enter Northwestern University 
Medical School in the fall, was there to honor the man whose name 
he bore. 

The list of the fifty favored guests who participated in the 
pleasures of the evening was duly set forth so that the envious 
might read and the program of the twenty-piece mandolin orches- 
tra was given, number by number. Not a detail escaped mention. 
When the society reporter ran out of adjectives he wound up 
with the information that Dr. Williams and his accomplished bride 
would reside at 3301 Forest Avenue. 

Forest Avenue, later renamed Giles Avenue, was a half century 

158 Daniel Hale Williams 

ago a pleasant, tree-shaded street, though a modest one. The 
joined frame houses with their high stoops were small, narrow 
and only two stories high. But Alice Williams made a pleasant, 
tasteful home there and settled down to being called upon and 
going calling. 

Her husband plunged into his old activities Provident Hos- 
pital, his private practice, community affairs. 



SCARCELY had Dr. Dan and Alice settled into their Chicago 
home when their busy, happy days were interrupted by rever- 
berations from Washington. Senator McMillan's investigating 
committee had published an interim report stating that the Interior 
Department was giving Freedmen's Hospital no real management. 
They recommended that the hospital be turned over to a District 
board of charities. 

If the Department of the Interior was not to lose a large insti- 
tution from its purview, it must justify its right to continue its 
former prerogatives. Secretary Bliss appointed three employees 
of his own department members of a long inactive Board of 
Visitors to the hospital. On Tuesday, June 28, their report was 
ready and he gave it to the press at once. That same evening the 
Washington Star devoted two columns to the more sensational 
aspects of the document. 

"The Secretary of the Interior," said the Star, "has ordered a 
complete reorganization of the Freedmen's Hospital. . . . Re- 
port of the Board of Visitors . . . shows a condition of affairs 
not only loose in method but in execution . . . strong intimations 
of looseness that are characterized as criminal. . . . When Con- 
gress appointed a special committee to investigate the subject 
of charities and correction in the District of Columbia, Secretary 
Bliss decided to have an investigation on his own account . . ." 

160 Daniel Hale Williams 

The next morning the Post repeated the story under the 
FREEDMEN'S HOSPITAL." Immediately the Senate requested the 
Secretary of the Interior to transmit to it any information he had 
concerning abuses at Freedmen's as well as his suggestions for 
more effective management of the hospital. Bliss transmitted his 
Visitors' report in toto. Proposals for legislative action he begged 
to defer until the next session of Congress. 

The report was voluminous. It rehearsed, though without credit, 
matters that Dr. Dan had sent the Secretary year after year and 
which only now were transmitted to the Senate. The report also 
recommended that payment to internes be stopped, that drastic 
cuts be made in the amount allowed student nurses; that both 
internes and nurses, as well as all other employees except five top- 
ranking persons, be removed from civil service classification. 
Worst of all, Secretary Bliss recommended a return to the old 
closed system of a small paid staff, with Warfield as execu- 
tive officer under Curtis. There were to be no cuts in pay for 
Curtis, Warfield, Miss Ebersole and the clerk, but the matron 
was cut from fifty dollars a month to thirty, and the engineer 
was cut. 

As if to silence forever the Lynch-Purvis crowd who had been 
by-passed in the appointment of Curtis, the report criticized the 
constant encroachment, so called, of Howard University upon 
Freedmen's Hospital. Dr. Dan's efforts to compromise and keep 
peace with the university to have each benefit by co-operation 
with the other were derogated. Instead Secretary Bliss recom- 
mended that Howard be completely dissociated from the hospital 
and that its medical students be admitted only at stated times 
and upon presentation of credentials. 

The report was suspect on several counts. It largely avoided 
crediting Dr. Dan with its most important recommendations. And 
it attacked him for anything that was wrong or could be made 
to seem so. While necessarily admitting that "Dr. Williams en- 
joyed a considerable distinction in the field of operative surgery," 
this achievement was spoken of slightingly as his "hobby." Dr. 


Williams, it was blandly stated, "evidently lacked . . . adminis- 
trative ability ... no adequate records were kept and no suffi- 
cient guard existed to insure a capable and economical admin- 
istration of the hospital . . . formerly the hospital rendered 
quarterly reports of property to the Secretary of the Interior, but 
for several years now such a thing has been practically unheard 

Before Dr. Curtis took over, the report continued, the hospital 
was without any written code or definite rules. Custom and tra- 
dition appeared to have been the chief if not the only sources, 
said Bliss's Visitors, from which the staff acquired any under- 
standing of their duties, responsibilities and limitations. Where- 
with the Secretary presented a list of rules and regulations in 
whose preparation he had been, he said, assisted by the "extensive 
experience" of Dr. Curtis. 

Finally, said the Secretary, "no inventory of hospital property 
could be found. . . . The clerk, who appears to be a capable and 
bright gentleman, frankly admitted to us his own surprise at the 
loose methods employed. . . . The auditor's office . . . shows that 
large sums of money, amounting to hundreds of dollars, have been 
expended for surgical instruments and medical literature of which 
very few if any ... are now in the possession of the hospital. . . . 
we will later submit a supplemental report covering the matter." 

The Senate referred this astounding document to the Senate 
Committee on the District of Columbia, of which McMillan was 
a member as he was of the joint investigating committee. This was 
on Saturday, July 2, the first day that the colored newspapers, 
being weeklies, could mention the matter. The dignified, con- 
servative Colored American ignored the insinuations of the report, 
in fact ignored the report altogether. Instead the newspaper 
carried a prominent story commending the state of Illinois for ap- 
pointing Dr. Dan with rank of colonel to a board of notable sur- 
geons to examine those applying to be medical officers in the regi- 
ments forming for service in the war with Spain. The Colored 
American added that Dr. Williams, who had so ably demonstrated 
his talent at Freedmen's Hospital and won favor among all classes 

1 62 Daniel Hale Williams 

by his "winning presence, becoming modesty and perfect fr&^dom 
from self-assertion," would give again an "eminently satisfactory 
account of his stewardship." 

The volatile Bee, however, was not satisfied to show its faith 
in such indirect fashion. The Bee pulled out an editorial already 
set on the Negro's role in the war in its haste leaving two lines 
standing and published an impassioned defense of the colored 
world's idol: The "smelling committee, otherwise known as the 
Board of Visitors," said the Bee, might have saved time and space 
in the Evening Star had it devoted itself to a decent investigation 
rather than a personal and cowardly attack on Dr. Daniel H. Wil- 
liams. In the opinion of the Bee there had never been anyone 
appointed to Freedmen's who demonstrated his ability better as 
a surgeon or as an executive, and his honesty could not be ques- 
tioned. "The Bee often warned Dr. Williams,'* that newspaper 
said, "of the treachery and infidelity of certain associates he had 
around him ... he has been treacherously betrayed in the home 
of his pretended friends." 

The Bee was only too correct. William Warfield, who had 
been Dr. Dan's companion on those happy excursions with Caddie 
Parke and Alice, who had received his special tutelage, and who 
had been promoted by Dr. Dan to the position of first assistant 
surgeon, now attacked his former chief. When Dr. Dan had left 
for Chicago he had invited Warfield to come on later and act 
as his assistant. The younger man had been glad enough to be 
offered a job in Chicago, should the new regime at Freedmen's 
bring in their favorites and sweep him out. But he knew Dr. Dan 
for a hard taskmaster and when he saw an opportunity to ingra- 
tiate himself with the new powers and thus entrench himself in 
his job, he did not hesitate. He made a lengthy sworn statement 
to the Board of Visitors charging his former chief with theft 
of medical books and instruments. 

Warfield stated that instruments left by Purvis in February 1894 
were in May 1 898, four years later, no longer in the hospital; that 
others purchased on government accounts during Dr. Dan's in- 
cumbency never had got into the hospital stores, or were no longer 


there; and that vouchers had been paid for which no official requi- 
sition could be found. 

Most of the items Warfield enumerated were picayune, of the 
sort that are bought in quantity and damaged rather quickly 
artery forceps, Halsted forceps, curettes, scissors. Out of the 
twenty-seven scissors purchased, straight and curved, said War- 
field, only fifteen were found in the hospital after Dr. Dan left. 
That a dozen pairs of scissors should have disappeared in three 
and a half years was taken with great seriousness by the Visitors. 

A list of medical books was itemized. "None of these," said 
Warfield, "are in the hospital, nor ever had been as property of 
the hospital." He named five books and said he had seen them in 
Dr. Dan's room, had been lent them to read and been told by 
Dr. Dan they were his private property. 

And so on, through twenty-six pages of testimony. Cameras, 
a lens, shutters, plateholders, were mentioned. Such items ap- 
peared on vouchers, Warfield stated, but there were no official 
requisitions. The requisition book for the period in question had 
mysteriously disappeared. 

It also seemed Dr. Dan had sold to Warfield for fifty dollars a 
camera, tripod, diaphragm shutter, six plateholders, and one rec- 
tilinear lens, and that he had made a gift of another camera to 
Dr. Curtis. The implication was that these were government 

Warfield's testimony was an indictment of himself, if of any- 
body. Of the three storerooms at the hospital, one small one had 
been used by Dr. Dan personally and no one had keys to it but 
the matron and Dr. Dan himself. Once in the chief surgeon's 
absence, said Warfield, he had asked the matron for the keys. His 
purpose, he explained, was to get a pair of trousers for a patient, 
though why such an article should be in Dr. Dan's personal closet 
was not clear. The matron had refused the key, and Warfield 
had had the engineer make him one. This key he had kept un- 
known to the chief surgeon and on several future occasions, when 
Dr. Dan himself had refused him access, Warfield had entered 
with his secret key. Thus he had convinced himself, he told the 

164 Daniel Hale Williams 

Board of Visitors, that large stores of red flannel and white duck 
had been kept there which "looked like" hospital stores. These 
had disappeared, Warfield said, coincident with Dr. Dan's de- 
parture. Warfield's clandestine methods of obtaining his testi- 
mony seemed not to have damaged that testimony in the slightest 
in the eyes of Bliss's committee. 

Warfield went still further and claimed that Dr. Dan had sug- 
gested he sell the unclaimed bodies of paupers who died in the 
hospital to Dr. Walter A. Reed of the Medical Museum and keep 
the money. This illegal suggestion, Warfield said, he had indig- 
nantly refused to consider. Eager as the Visitors were to hear evi- 
dence that could be used to blacken the former administration, 
they could not forbear asking their informer if he had reason to 
believe his chief would prostitute his position for private gain. 
"Yes," said Warfield piously, he had reluctantly come to just 
that conclusion. Why? Well, once when the Interior Department 
had asked for back reports on old soldiers staying at the hospital, 
Dr. Dan had said no reports had been kept previous to his own 
administration, but Warfield had found some old reports, and 
while they did not definitely classify patients they did have indi- 
cations like "P. O." or "Int." after names and these, Warfield 
thought, meant Police Officer or Interior, and so names without 
such indications were probably old soldiers. 

It seemed curious evidence on which to base a charge of law- 
breaking, and evidently the /Visitors or Warfield himself feared 
this choice bit had better be withdrawn. At any rate all the testi- 
mony about the cadavers was scored out before Warfield put his 
name to the twenty-six pages of testimony. But he allowed the 
charge of stealing instruments, stores and books to stand. And he 
also recounted Dr. Dan's offer to take him to Chicago with him, 
thereby implying that Dr. Dan was trying to undermine the new 
Curtis administration. 

The day after the Board of Visitors had heard Warfield, they 
called in Miss Ebersole. The superintendent of nurses stated she 
was in charge of the operating room where the hospital instru- 
ments were kept and had made a list of the instruments. How- 


ever, she said, Warfield and the internes, as well as Dr. Dan, had 
access to the instrument case at will. This was not backing War- 
field's testimony very well. The Visitors pressed her for details 
as to quantities and kinds of instruments bought, but Miss Eber- 
sole was not able to remember with the unusual definiteness War- 
field had exhibited. She did have a feeling that there was never 
as large a supply of small items like thermometers, artery forceps, 
scissors, curettes, or tongue depressors on hand as vouchers indi- 
cated had been bought. With this vague support the Visitors had 
to be satisfied. 

Miss Ebersole did say she felt material for shirts, gowns, towels 
and table linen disappeared out of the general storeroom and 
must have be i put in Dr. Dan's small private storeroom because 
"there was no other place to put it." No one sought to check up 
on what had been sewed up into garments, nor to take testimony 
from the matron who had a key to Dn Dan's storeroom and who 
had refused it to Warfield. The matron was dismissed for insubor- 
dination; no one wanted to hear what she had to say. 

Further questioning of Miss Ebersole attempted to show Dr. 
Dan had a sharp tongue. She said she had once threatened to re- 
sign because of it, but she had received a handsome apology and 
so she had stayed. She said that Dr. Dan had offered her a job 
in Chicago, too. She said she resented his assuming she would 
accept it. She added she had had one letter from him "the 
nurses had given him a present the night before he went away, and 
he was telling me how he felt about it. ... I never answered the 
letter." There was more than a hint that Miss Ebersole had suf- 
fered a reversal of hopes in Dr. Dan's marriage and was now 
reacting in classic fashion with the fury of a woman who felt 
herself spurned. 

Harry Cordoza, the clerk, was not a very good witness. He 
admitted he did not know the names of instruments very well, 
so he could not recall ordering a calibrator, a cystoscope or a 
Reverdin needle. He said the requisition book that should have 
covered these items was lost. He had seen it in the storeroom the 
day after Dr. Dan left, but later it disappeared. With some prod- 

1 66 Daniel Hale Williams 

ding he was led to change his statement and say that It was "maybe 
earlier" that he last saw it. Warfield had claimed the book had 
gone "three or four months" before Dr. Dan left. 

Asked who had access to the storeroom, Cordoza first said he 
didn't know, but added, embarrassingly enough, "I found out 
afterwards some people went in there I didn't know of." He was 
pointedly not asked who these were. It took nine pages of ques- 
tioning to tie Cordoza into the implications of Warfield and Miss 
Ebersole that because Dr. Dan had assured them all he would 
give them jobs if they were dismissed in the political turnover, 
he was therefore seeking to embarrass the Curtis regime. Again 
and again Cordoza would fail to rise to the baited questions, or, 
led into implicating Dr. Dan, would quickly turn around and 
absolve him. 

The Visitors protected the witnesses. Their testimony was not 
included in the published report. To get to the bottom of the 
matter, Dr. Dan hastened back to Washington and went to see 
Secretary Bliss. He was referred to the Board of Visitors. Fortu- 
nately he took with him an attorney, his friend Judge Jerry 

As the charges the witnesses had made were unfolded, Dr. Dan 
sat as if turned to concrete. When the last word was read, Judge 
Wilson snapped, "So my client is charged with felonious theft?" 

At that moment Dr. Dan crumpled to the floor in a dead faint. 
Someone grabbed a newspaper and fanned him, Judge Wilson 
forced some whiskey between his teeth, and he was soon revived. 
The blow must have been almost too great for him to bear. Curtis 
and Warfield, his students and his friends, both men he had trained 
to serve their race, had betrayed him. Dr. Dan had forgiven 
Curtis for reaching out for his job before he left it, but now this 
was too much. And Warfield with whom he had bicycled and 
picnicked, whom he had instructed and encouraged and even 
invited into his Chicago office Warfield, a Negro and a man 
of his own blood, had invented this calumny and taken it to 
'whites to use against him! 


Judge Wilson repeated his question. Was Dr. Williams being 
charged with a felony? The chairman answered cautiously. The 
printed report, he said, stated that a comparison of the list of 
instruments and books bought for the hospital with the inven- 
tory taken by Dr. Curtis upon assuming control showed very few 
of either were in the possession of the hospital. "We have not 
learned," said the chairman, "what disposition has been made of 
this property." 

Dr. Dan began to speak. With regard to the books, he said, 90 
per cent of purchases were for the nurses, elementary works on 
nursing and physiology, Hampton's Nursing, Kimber's Anatomy 
and Physiology. "No medical man has any use for them in the 
least," he said. There were perhaps a hundred of such books 
bought in three and a half years and they were used up, lost, or 
stolen. "As they always are in such places," he pointed out. He 
mentioned that on two separate occasions the bookcases had been 
broken into. As for books of medical character he supposed that 
not more than fifteen had been bought during his incumbency, 
perhaps twenty at the outside. "When I was leaving," Dr. Dan 
stated, "I left twelve or fifteen medical books, I cannot tell how 
many, upstairs in my room and in the storeroom." 

The Board of Visitors made no comment and he went on to 
explain to them what any medical man would have known. Every 
hospital, he said, of more than a hundred beds uses up in the 
wear and tear and loss of instruments from one hundred to three 
hundred every year. "We can't help it," he explained, "they are 
lost, or they are worn out. Very often, instruments break. I have 
destroyed twenty-five instruments in one day." 

Dr. Dan explained that certain operations required valuable 
needles costing from eight to twenty dollars. If the eye of the 
needle was broken, he said, the instrument was useless. There were 
instruments for reaching into the pelvis; if they were broken 
on the ends they could not be repaired and they were unfit for 
further use. A pair of forceps for instance was often broken. For- 
ceps cost five to eight dollars, more often ten. What was plainer, 
Dr. Dan said, than that several hundred dollars' worth of instru- 

1 68 Daniel Hale Williams 

ments, a thousand dollars' worth, should be used up and disappear 
in three and a half years, especially when a man was performing 
three hundred to five hundred major surgical operations annually? 
"I think you will find it amounted to more than five hundred," 
Dr. Dan said wearily, "if you look over the reports." 

When he came to Freedmen's, he explained, the hospital owned 
practically no instruments. His predecessor Dr. Purvis had done 
no surgery. So Dr. Dan had used his own instruments. He had 
had $2500 worth of instruments. "I remember," he said, "I bought 
$70 worth at the World's Fair." And all the time he was at 
Freedmen's he had continued to use his own instruments, and 
when he went away he went away short, with only $2000 or 
$2100 worth. Any surgeon who had a full complement of instru- 
ments found, he explained, that he had a shrinkage of from $200 
to $300 a year in his instruments from loss, wearing out, or 
from theft. At Freedmen's a great many instruments were lost. 

"I lost some of my most valuable instruments," Dr. Dan stated. 
There would be an emergency case brought in, staff and students 
would gather to watch, he would be engrossed with the patient, 
and when the excitement was over he would be short several 
more instruments. "No one could help it," he said, "but since I 
was using my own instruments in the service of the hospital I 
had permission from the District Property Clerk, Mr. Beckett, 
to replace such losses and breakage from hospital purchases. Even 
so, I went away $300 to $400 short." 

The chairman was set back. Beckett would undoubtedly verify 
Dr. Dan's statement. He tried another tack. "Why didn't you 
make an inventory report to the Interior office?" he demanded. 

"Because my instructions were to make my quarterly reports 
to Mr. Lewis," rejoined Dr. Dan. 

"Who was Mr. Lewis?" peppered the chairman. 

"Mr. Lewis," patiently replied Dr. Dan, "is Superintendent of 
Charities for the District of Columbia." The Visitors could not 
have remained ignorant of this fact, but they had chosen to ignore 
the yawning gaps of divided jurisdiction when they complained 
in the public press and to the Senate that "for several years such 


a thing as a quarterly report to the Secretary of the Interior has 
been practically unheard of. n 

Warfield's charges were shot full of holes, but the examiner 
angrily kept on, trying to find at least one item he could pin on 
Dr. Dan. He pulled out random vouchers, some two and three 
years old, and barked his questions. Did Dr. Williams ever pur- 
chase such and such and on what date? Dr. Dan answered with 
but partial attention. He seemed almost not to care whether he 
made a proper defense or not. "I really don't know," he answered, 
"I think so. ... No, I don't remember." 

The chairman picked up another voucher. "I see that on April 
2, 1897," k e read, "one Kelly's cystoscope, one calibrator and one 
Reverdin needle were purchased. Do you remember anything 
about them?" 

Dr. Dan apparently tried to collect himself. "I remember the 
Reverdin needle," he said. "Don't remember the cystoscope. I 
have so many in my own stock." 

"Did you ever see any cystoscopes in the hospital?" was the 
next question. 

"I left several in the hospital," Dr. Dan answered. 

The examiner wanted to know whether any cystoscopes had 
ever been bought by the government for the hospital and Dr. 
Dan said he could not tell him. "Then," argued the questioner, 
"the cystoscopes left in the hospital were your property?" Dr. 
Dan replied dully that he could not tell, they might be, but he 
did not think so. 

"Please try to reflect, doctor," prodded the chairman. "Do you 
know whether any calibrators were bought for the hospital?" 
But Dr. Dan could not remember. "I know I had one or two cali- 
brators," he said, "I brought them with me when I came." 

"And did you buy any of these instruments for your private 
use while you were in charge of Freedmen's?" the chairman 

"Yes," Dr. Dan finally said, "yes, I remember now, I bought 
Kelly's cystoscope from Truax in Chicago." 

"But did you ever buy one from Gilman here?" the chairman 

170 Daniel Hale Williams 

wanted to know. Dr. Dan did not remember. "Or a calibrator?" 
Still he did not remember. 

"Well, you do remember a Reverdin needle," the chairman 
said. "Was it bought for the hospital?" 

Here was something in all this tangle that he could hold on to. 
"When I bought my collection at the World's Fair," said Dr. 
Dan, "I bought a very valuable Reverdin needle. I broke it in 
Freedmen's Hospital and when I reported the matter to Mr. Beck- 
ett, he told me to replace it." 

The chairman wanted to know if he bought it from Gilman 
and Dr. Dan answered that he didn't remember. Then the chair- 
man asked whether he took a Reverdin needle from the hospital 
when he left and again he said he didn't remember. 

Warfield had sworn that he had never seen a cystoscope or a 
calibrator in the hospital at any time and that he first saw a Rever- 
din needle in the hospital after Dr. Dan's return from Europe 
in June 1897. But Dr. Dan remembered he had brought both 
cystoscopes and calibrators with him and had bought a Reverdin 
needle at the Fair, broken it in Freedmen's, and replaced it. The 
voucher was dated April 2, 1897, he had appeared before the joint 
investigating committee on April 22, and had not gone to Europe 
until afterward. Despite his state of shock, his memory agreed with 
the records; Warfield's statement did not. 

And so on, and on. Did Dr. Williams remember that six tongue 
depressors had been bought on July 19, 1897? No, he did not. 
The procedure was absurd to the point of being nonsensical. 

Warfield had made much of a voucher showing that a Zeiss 
lens and a diaphragm shutter worth $72 were ordered from a 
local dealer, later returned as unsatisfactory and other items taken 
in exchange including a 5 x 7 Montauk camera worth $23 and 
a 5 x 8 rapid Universal lens worth $36 and a diaphragm shutter 
costing $15, plateholders and miscellaneous items to total $72. 
Warfield's implication was that Dr. Dan had kept these items and 
sold them to him, while at the same time he had made a gift to 
Curtis of another camera purchased by government money. 

Dr. Dan admitted freely enough that he had sold a camera 


and accessories to Warfield, but insisted it was his own private 
property he had sold, though he could not remember exactly 
when he had bought it. He denied he had ever given a camera 
to Curtis; he had left one in his room because it was hospital 
property, but he had not made a gift of it to anyone. 

At this point Judge Wilson evidently sought to cut short the 
nonsense. He asked to insert a statement in the record and was 
granted the request. He turned to Dr. Dan and asked: "Dr. Wil- 
liams, did you ever purchase any property of any kind whatever 
and pay for it out of government money and then convert the 
property to your own use?" 

"No," Dr. Dan answered, "I did not. I went away $300 to $500 
short on my own property." 

And with that flat statement the two men left. The matter of 
the bolts of material was not brought up and the cadavers were 
not even mentioned. 

Fortunately Dr. Dan was able to find in his papers receipts from 
Bausch & Lomb showing payment by his personal check in May 
1895 for the lens and shutter sold to Warfield, The next day these 
were identified to the Visitors by their serial numbers. He could 
not find his receipt for the camera, which was about five years 
old, but the Visitors did not press the subject further. Bliss never 
forwarded their report to McMillan. McMillan was only con- 
firmed in his conviction that Freedmen's Hospital should be 
taken away from the Secretary of the Interior and placed under 
a District board of charities and he so recommended to the 

On Saturday, July 23, three days after Dr. Dan had his inter- 
view with the Visitors, the irrepressible Bee devoted its entire 
front page to the surgeon. His picture appeared heavily garlanded 
with ornate borders and underneath was this paragraph: 


This distinguished surgeon, formerly surgeon-in-chief of 
the Freedmen's Hospital, arrived in this city this week. He 
received a great ovation. He called upon Commissioner 

1 72 Daniel Hale Williams 

J. W. Ross, Secretary Bliss and others who assured him that 
he had their confidence and respect. Several receptions and 
dinners were tendered him by admiring surgeons, physicians 
and friends. Col. Williams is the first colored man in the 
United States to be appointed surgeon for the army. 

Dr. Dan had successfully defended his honor, but when he 
boarded the train for Chicago, he must have felt bewildered and 
disgusted. What had happened to the colored people? he might 
well ask himself as he was carried westward across the state w r here 
the Williams clan had fought so valiantly for the common dig- 
nity. Where was the mutual concern and loyalty he had been 
taught from boyhood? To be sure, this was a new generation, 
a generation not refined by the fires of common suffering, but 
rather corroded and poisoned by repression. If whites continued 
to prevent colored people from making the most of themselves, 
what recourse had they but to turn and rend somebody each 
other, if not their oppressors? So he might try to excuse Curtis 
and Warfield, but again this had been the kind of blow he appar- 
ently had little power to withstand a blow from his own people. 

In Chicago he told his wife he would not take any assistant 
into his office. He would not even have a girl to answer his tele- 
phone or keep track of his appointments. Some thought he was 
frugal to the point of penuriousness. More likely the truth was 
that he dared permit no one in close proximity to his affairs again. 


Destroying Myths 

THOUGH he had been away four years in Washington. Dr. 
Dan had kept in close touch with Chicago so it was easy to pick 
up the reins again. He had left young Howard Chislett, his white 
assistant, in charge of his old office at 3ist Street and Michigan 
Avenue. Now Chislett relinquished the two small rooms and went 
elsewhere to become a surgeon of standing and a credit to his 
colored teacher. 

Dr. Dan must have moved back into the familiar quarters with 
a sigh of satisfaction. Here he could be his own man again, a 
surgeon and nothing else, free of sordid politics, ready for work 
and professional give and take among his peers and color lines 
seldom drawn. 

"Dr. Dan's back" quick as lightning the word went around. 
He had never been absent from their thoughts. When he had per- 
formed a spectacular operation at Freedmen's, the news was on 
the wires and in Chicago's Negro press the next day, down to 
the smallest detail. Now patients, both black and white, crammed 
his reception room and even swarmed on the stairs. Soon he 
had cases, his wife wrote a friend, in five hospitals at once. 

He had remained on the board of trustees of Provident and had 
been active in Provident affairs all during his stay in Washington. 
On the spot, Dr. Dan's close friends Lloyd Wheeler, James Mad- 
den and Charles Bentley had never slackened their work for the 

174 Daniel Hale Williams 

institution they had all built together. Bentley, as secretary, took 
over all correspondence. Clarence Darrow, who had been Dr. 
Dan's patient, came on the board and he and Wheeler divided 
their attention between the beauties of nature and the problems of 
Provident as they cycled through the countryside on Sundays. 
Julius Avendorph arranged baseball games and the gate receipts 
swelled hospital funds. Jenkin Lloyd Jones continued to lend his 
encouragement. Despite all these, it was necessarily Dr. Dan, the 
physician and surgeon, who was the guiding mind in the affairs 
of the institution. 

Herman H. Kohlsaat and George Webster, two of the hospi- 
tal's wealthiest white supporters, also trustees, several times had 
called him to come to Chicago when they felt his advice was 
needed. The new building had at last materialized in late 1896. 
Kohlsaat had given the land on the corner of 36th and Dearborn 
Streets. It was seven blocks farther south, but the cable cars now 
ran to 39th Street and only below that point were horse cars still 
in use. The location was excellent. Armour paid for the new 65- 
bed building with its "complete and superior operating room." 
There was an enlarged dispensary; it could serve six thousand pa- 
tients a year. George M. Pullman, Marshall Field and Otto Young 
purchased two adjoining properties; a nurses' home "would eventu- 
ally be erected on them. 

Early in the fall Webster had taken satisfaction in writing Dr. 
Dan that "the interior work of the Hosp'l is progressing & it looks 
as if by Nov'r ist the whole building will be ready for occupancy. 
In the meantime the col'd people have arranged a 'house warming' 
the latter part of this mo. & I am at work in regard to the Furnish- 
ing." A few weeks more and the momentous move had been made 
to the new quarters "material realization of your dream," Web- 
ster wrote Dr. Dan. Armour had made a speech. "He talked all 
about Dr. Dan," later recalled James Gordon of the original com- 
mittee; "he said, 'You be proud of him.' " 

Despite the fine new building, all had not gone smoothly. A 
man of really big caliber was lacking. Very soon Webster had 
written Dr. Dan that there was dissatisfaction over the recent 


medical appointments. A month later Kohlsaat had urged Dr. 
Dan to come to Chicago for the holidays and look into the matter. 
The men who had given so much did not want the usefulness of 
their gift dissipated. 

So all were delighted when Dr. Dan came back to stay. "We 
need men of your stamp here," Kohlsaat said. Dr. Dan was again 
Provident's chief surgeon. How much Dr. Dan was needed at 
Provident was known to no one at the time. It would have taken 
a prognosticator of unusual powers to foresee what was ahead, 
and Dr. Dan was far too busy to look for trouble. 

But trouble was present in the person of George Hall. 

At that time George Hall's motives were not plain. No one 
knew of his letters to the Washington newspapers attacking Dr. 
Dan during his long illness. But those letters were the opening 
guns in a battle to which Hall gave continuing pursuit imper- 
ceptible at first as he was feeling his way, but increasing in mo- 
mentum as events played into his hands. 

George Hall was a big man, dark-skinned and heavy-featured. 
He was ambitious, fearless and full of boundless energy, quick to 
enter a fight, to defend what he felt were his rights. He seemed to 
feel that the original reluctance to accept him on the staff of 
Provident Hospital was a personal affront rather than a profes- 
sional rejection of his Eclectic diploma. 

He did, however, attend evening classes at Harvey Medical 
School and brought back an allopathic diploma. The most tangi- 
ble stumbling block to his progress was thus removed. When Dr. 
Jaggard died and Daniel N. Eisendrath was brought in to head the 
obstetrical department, there was no longer any concrete reason 
why Hall should not be advanced from the children's department 
to assist him. A year later, he was allowed to move still further up, 
into gynecology. 

But advancement through professional attainment was slow and 
Hall, though intelligent, was not brilliant. He had other means. 
Ingratiation was an art with him a compliment here, an innu- 
endo there. He made himself persona grata with Nina Price, the 
superintendent of nurses. That young white woman, daughter of 

1 76 Daniel Hale Williams 

wealthy parents, had chosen In missionary spirit to work among 
the darker race. In her fervor for good works she was perhaps in- 
discriminating about the wronged folk she sought to serve. Hall 
delighted her with his affable ways and his eagerness to co-operate 
with her. She saw no reason not to believe in him and spoke well 
of him when occasion arose, as a superintendent of nurses is in 
such excellent situation to do. 

With white lay members of the board of trustees, Hall got on 
well too. Agreeable, full of good cheer, never openly obstructive 
to anyone, he seemed to them a fine young fellow, somewhat 
flashy in dress and careless in grooming, perhaps, but creditably 
ambitious. They were glad to help him get ahead. They knew 
nothing of what was apparent to some of the colored professional 
men that Hall was tricky. He seemed always to have something 
on people. He made a point of watching a man's movements, at- 
tempting to discover his secrets, if he had any, something to hold 
over a person he might want to influence. But the white men 
knew nothing of this and the colored men who did see it kept si- 
lent out of race loyalty. 

While Dr. Dan was away a vacancy had occurred on the board 
of trustees and Hall had secured the seat. He managed, too, to get 
on the executive committee of the staff which ran the institution 
in Dr. Dan's absence. Later this staff committee was replaced by 
a house committee, appointed by the board and responsible di- 
rectly to it. This house committee was the center of power and 
policy for many years and Hall was never off it after that moment. 

Dr. Dan upon his return made no move to go on the house com- 
mittee. Instead he went on the finance committee, the fund- 
raising committee where he was particularly needed but where he 
was not involved in the actual operation of the institution. Under 
pressure of many other commitments, still prone anyhow to want 
younger men to have their chance, Dr. Dan did not push himself 
into the daily routine of the hospital. It was a serious omission, but 
he more than had his hands full. 

One of Dr. Dan's first jobs after his return to Chicago was to 
examine recruits for the 8th Illinois Regiment the old 9th Battal- 


ion now expanded for service in the Spanish-American War, 
This was the first colored regiment to be entirely officered by col- 
ored men. He might have been major of the medical department 
on active duty, but went on the examining board instead and Gov- 
ernor Tanner commissioned Allen A. Wesley in his place. Dr. 
Dan with two young colored doctors Wilberforce Williams 
and James R. White examined 1500 men in a few days. 

Wilberforce Williams had finished his interneship at Provident 
Hospital three years before; James White was but just through. 
The young men knew themselves to be green and inexperienced, 
but they soon lost their self -consciousness with Dr. Dan. Under 
his quiet courtesy toward them, they relaxed despite themselves. 
"He never made me feel inferior," White said years later. 

Young White appreciated Dr. Dan's encouragement all the 
more because, from another quarter, his self-confidence had been 
shaken. White was engaged to be married and George Hall had 
taken the occasion to remark to his fiancee that if she were inter- 
ested in that young interne White she better get him to go back 
to Tennessee where he came from. "He'll never succeed here in 
Chicago," said Hall, shaking his head knowingly. 

Hall's words had been cold water to the youth's aspirations un- 
til Dr. Dan came along. But with the great surgeon evincing faith 
in him, White decided to take a chance and stay on in the big 
city. Only years later, when he was well established, did White 
realize that Hall's motive had been to safeguard himself from pos- 
sible encroaching competition. Hall made a point of advising 
Provident's internes to start up anywhere else but Chicago. For- 
tunately Dr. Dan had come back and was soon encouraging the 
young colored doctors to gather regularly for reading and dis- 
cussing their own papers, as he had in Washington. It was true 
enough, he said to James White, that in Chicago colored men had 
entree to the Chicago Medical Society, the A. M. A., and so on, 
but they had special problems of their own and they needed to 
discuss them togetner. 

Soon Dr. Dan was as much at the service of the colored com- 
munity as in the old days. He rendered free medical service to the 

iy8 Daniel Hale Williams 

newly founded Old Folks Home on West Garfield Avenue. He 
made speeches and urged a more generous support by colored 
people. "We are well able to take care of this home," he pleaded, 
and reiterated his constant proud thesis: "We need not be de- 
pendent on white people." 

With half a dozen other prominent colored Chicagoans 
S. Laing Williams, E. H. Morris, Commissioner Edward H. 
Wright he threw himself into the organization of the ill-fated 
United Brotherhood Fraternal Insurance Company. It was to be a 
liberal interracial institution built on a national scale. Dr. Dan 
wrote a friend that it was the most comprehensive and promising 
business proposition colored men had ever entered into. He was 
so enthusiastic about it that when the first executive pulled out 
after a year, he allowed his own name to be used in an effort to 
bolster the organization. The time was ripe for such a venture 
and within a year or two other such companies succeeded, but 
one of the founders of the United Brotherhood absconded with 
the funds and this project failed. 

One of Dr. Dan's biggest services to the colored community 
lay in the position he maintained in white medical circles. With 
everything else he did he still managed to attend professional so- 
ciety meetings and join in the discussions. Indeed, after the cir- 
cumscriptions of segregation in the national capital, he must have 
thoroughly enjoyed these contacts with his fellows. 

After his report on his heart operation, which he had finally 
published four years after the event, in the spring of 1897, Dr. 
Dan had no opportunity to do any medical writing. But away 
from the turmoil of Washington and ensconced in a restful home 
with a book-loving wife who wanted no more social life than an, 
occasional lecture or evening at the opera, Dr. Dan settled down 
to evaluate his now extensive surgical experience. 

In December after his return to the Middle West, he presented 
at a clinical meeting of the Chicago Medical Society the case of 
the unusual molluscum fibromm he had removed at Freedmen's 
from the German farmer's back. Dr. Lamb, who had prepared 


the specimen and had shown it to the Medical Society of the Dis- 
trict of Columbia soon after its removal, forwarded it to Chicago. 
Dr. J. M. Beffel in the Northwestern Pathological Laboratory 
made several microscopic slides and Dr. J. Nevins Hyde pre- 
sented a photograph of the gross specimen to the American Der- 
matological Society. Altogether the i2|-pound tumor, thought to 
be the largest of its kind operated upon in the United States, had 
widespread notice. Dr. Dan's paper was published first in the Chi- 
cago Medical Recorder, journal of the Chicago Medical Society, 
and later was reprinted in the Philadelphia Medical Journal 

The same evening Dr. Dan presented this matter, he also pre- 
sented two others of interest. The first was a repair of hernia of 
the bladder through the groin. The case was rare and had led him 
to search the literature on the subject. These findings, together 
with his own, he presented to the society. The other affair was a 
specimen of a large branching uterine tumor that consisted of a 
half dozen masses the size of an adult's fist and larger, with many 
nodules varying in size from a bean to a hen's egg. Some of the 
tumors were imbedded in the walls of the uterus; others were at- 
tached to the outer surface. This multinodular growth had com- 
plicated a five-months pregnancy. The situation had been referred 
to Dr. Dan when the patient was already in an extremely unprom- 
ising condition and the diagnosis had been difficult to make. He 
had been able to determine the fact of the pregnancy, but, in the 
end, he had found it necessary to remove both uterus and tumors. 
His case drew much interest and the journal Obstetrics reprinted 
the paper. 

Dr. Dan's vast experience with uterine tumors at Freedmen's 
had led Stillman Bailey, his office neighbor, to ask him to prepare 
a statement on surgical treatment of such cases. This Bailey had 
read, while Dr. Dan was still in Washington, before the Clinical 
Society of Chicago along with his own paper on medical treat- 
ment of uterine fibroids. In that statement Dr. Dan had emphati- 
cally contradicted the prevailing opinion that colored women har- 
bor fibroid tumors more frequently than white women, or that 
fibroid tumors were the prevailing disease in black women. 

i8o Daniel Hale Williams 

Now he spent some time working up another paper which he 
presented to the Chicago Medical Society on December 26, 1900, 
and in it he proceeded to dispel yet another medical myth. Col- 
ored women, he declared, definitely do develop cystic tumors of 
the ovaries, the same as white women. The contrary statement had 
been made by professors in the best medical schools of the coun- 
try since the time of MacDowelL So strong was the belief that 
even when a tumor presented all the features of an ovarian cyst, 
a surgeon would say that, since the patient is a Negro, this cannot 
be a cyst, it must be a tumor of some other origin. Dr. Dan, how- 
ever, had seen 1301 cases of tumor sent to Freedmen's in his three 
and a half years there, and had operated on 2 10 of them. None of 
his hearers could doubt that he had not only developed a skill 
worthy of the better-known names of DeLee and Kelly, but 
that he had gained an over-all picture that gave him authority for 
his thesis. 

Dr. Dan was pleading for the scientific, laboratory approach. 
The myth, he said, would undoubtedly have gone on unchecked 
had not methods of study and diagnosis changed. "He is an in- 
different surgeon," declared Dr. Dan, "who would today extir- 
pate a tumor and base his diagnosis on the naked-eye appearance 
of the specimen." Fifty years earlier a distinguished operator 
might express an opinion on a pathologic specimen and never be 
questioned. But now, said Dr. Dan, the opinion of the most 
learned operator in the world would not be accepted until the 
specimen had been worked through a pathologic laboratory and a 
written report submitted on it. Dr. Dan was putting the case 
boldly, more ideally than was yet true; he was pushing for 

It was a fine paper, illustrative of the true detached scientific 
spirit. It showed extensive experience and intensive research and 
was not without humor. He assured his hearers that not only f air- 
skinned Negro women, but dark-skinned ones too had now evo- 
luted to the cyst-bearing stage. And, anyhow, he took occasion to 
say, of twelve million Negroes listed by the Census Bureau not 
one fourth were full-blooded. It was a well-known fact, he said, 


that in the same family were often found brothers and sisters 
black, mulatto, and white born of the same parents. "The color 
of the skin in this country," Dr. Dan blandly pointed out with 
forgivable relish, "furnishes no correct index of the purity of the 
blood of a colored person any more than it does the purity of the 
blood of a white person." So, he said, it might be pertinent to in- 
quire if this interesting question was to be confined to Negroes of 
black skins, brown skins, olive skins or to any shade of color. 
"Who is to determine," he asked, "where the line is to be drawn?" 
He then referred them for a further study of the relative shades 
of color in native Africans themselves to a colored plate in Mey- 
er's Konversations-Lexikon, published in Leipzig, giving types of 
all the principal tribes of Africa. "That plate," said Dr. Dan, 
"shows complexions varying from a clear mulatto to those of eb- 
ony black." 

While some of his hearers were doubtless smiling sympatheti- 
cally and others were frowning with annoyance, he proceeded to 
work in some pertinent observations as to why so few ovarian tu- 
mors had been found in Negro women in the past. "Before the 
war and for years afterward," he said, "little attention, if any, was 
paid to the surgical diseases of the Negro. Very few had been op- 
erated upon, and very small was the number of hospitals in the 
South for either white or colored people ... a ruptured cyst, a 
twisted pedicle, or a hemorrhage would cause death and only by 
an autopsy would we be acquainted with the real cause." Or if a 
colored woman did go to a doctor for examination, he pointed 
out, too often her case was given faulty diagnosis. Many cases of 
ovarian cyst were wrongly treated as dropsy, as Dr. Lamb's au- 
topsies showed. 

Dr. Dan went on to speak of the appalling mortality in cases of 
removal of ovaries in the early days of operation. At that time, 
when septic infection was almost a certainty, even white women 
preferred to carry their tumors, have them tapped, and worry 
along until death relieved them of their burden. It is no wonder, 
he said, that the poor colored woman, unable to receive the ad- 
vantages of proper diagnosis and treatment, died without opera- 

1 82 Daniel Hale Williams 

tion. There was no place where she could present her case for a 
full hearing, and little or no attention was ever paid to her con- 
dition. Doubtless hundreds of them, he said, have had their cysts 
and died a natural death rather than an operative one. Fortunately 
the situation was changing. With the advent of hospitals for the 
colored and the training of colored physicians and surgeons, Dr. 
Dan said in conclusion, with a bow to his confreres, the investi- 
gation and study of diseases in the colored race inaugurated by 
the white profession was now being continued by colored sci- 

To some doctors present, Dr. Dan's paper was an unwelcome 
declaration of colored independence. Albert J. Ochsner, known 
for a sly unctuous manner, tried first to demolish Dr. Dan with in- 
sincere compliments, and then to undermine him by attacking the 
studies made by Howard Kelly at Johns Hopkins, studies which 
Dr. Dan had just been quoting. Wrapping his barbs neatly in false 
humility, he presented them in his best mortician manner. 

The points the doctor had made, said Ochsner, are undoubtedly 
of great practical value; they are based upon an unusually large 
experience, Dr. Williams must be looked upon as an authority. 
"My own ignorance," said Ochsner, "is founded on the lectures I 
have heard and the books I have read and also every Negress I 
have ever examined has had fibroids, consequently I thought the 
various authors must be correct." 

Ochsner was powerful. To cross swords with him meant retalia- 
tion or frustration somewhere along the line. But Dr. Dan did not 
hesitate. Sarcasm was a game two could play at. He delivered his 
own thrust neatly, then followed it with a barrage of evidence 
that won him the battle of the evening, whatever it might do for 
his future opportunities at the hands of so powerful an adversary. 

First Dr. Dan disposed of Ochsner's false humility. He did not 
doubt at all, he said, that only women "who had fibroids presented 
themselves at the Postgraduate School for treatment. But he had 
perhaps had as large a gynecological experience as anyone in the 
Postgraduate School. For four years he had had charge of a hos- 
pital of two hundred beds and had made over one thousand pel- 


vie examinations each year and had had reports from as many 
more. "Not five per cent of the colored women who presented 
themselves," said Dr. Dan flatly, "had fibroids." 

While Ochsner blinked helplessly, Dr. Dan continued without 
mercy. Dr. Ochsner might be correct about Dr. Kelly's enthusi- 
asm, he said, nevertheless there was no denying that Dr. Kelly was 
in a position to study these cases more accurately than any other 
man in this country. Also Kelly did not go into the pathological 
laboratory himself and examine these cases. "I have had some ex- 
perience in Johns Hopkins," said Dr. Dan, "and I know these 
specimens are removed from the operating room and examined in 
the laboratory by entirely different men." With due deference to 
Dr. Ochsner's opinion about Dr. Kelly's methods, Dr. Dan said, 
his own personal knowledge of the man and familiarity with his 
surroundings inclined him to give Kelly's opinion some weight. 
And therefore he would continue to cling to the ideas he had al- 
ready expressed and would not question the methods employed 
at Johns Hopkins. 

Dr. Dan's paper was reprinted and commented upon in various 
Eastern journals. But he was not invited to join the Society of 
Clinical Surgery which Ochsner, with Will Mayo and Harvey 
Gushing, founded three years kter. 

In March 1900, not many weeks after his tilt with Ochsner, Dr. 
Dan was guest at a meeting of the Chicago Gynecological Society 
when Albert Goldspohn read a long and controversial paper on 
the Alexander method, which he favored, for surgical repair of 
certain displacements of the uterus. Lengthy, heated discussion 
followed. Dr. Dan presented some experience that indicated cau- 
tion would be appropriate. Then Reuben Peterson remarked that 
he could only wonder at the greatness of Dr. Goldspohn's diag- 
nostic ability if he could always tell by bimanual examination 
what there was within a pelvis. He always told his students, he 
said, that what was found by bimanual examination and what was 
found after the abdomen was opened were very apt to be en- 
tirely different. Dr. Dan seized the opportunity to support Peter- 
son. It was refreshing to him, he said, to hear a man say he did 

184 Daniel Hale Williams 

not know what pathology there was in the abdomen before he 
opened it. "It is seldom," said Dr. Dan, "that, such a frank ex- 
pression is made before a medical society." Dr. Dan was always in 
the vanguard now, always pushing the old fogies to the wall, and 
apparently thoroughly at ease among his associates as he did so. 

A few months later Dr. Dan was again a guest of the Gyneco- 
logical Society. This time he presented a report of the two com- 
plicated Caesarean sections he had performed in Washington 
three and a half years before. Most of the discussion at the meet- 
ing swung upon the question of whether or not such operations 
were justifiable. One critic thought Dr. Dan should have at- 
tempted, in the case of the dwarf, to enlarge the pubis surgically 
and extract the child by the normal route. Another critic admit- 
ted that special conditions had made the operation necessary, but 
he argued that otherwise it would be a doubtful procedure with 
convulsions present. 

The noted Joseph B. DeLee had engaged in the discussion 
throughout. Now he arose and backed Dr. Dan on both counts. 
Only yesterday, DeLee said, he had not done a Caesarean section 
on a mother with convulsions 'and now he wished he had. He had 
considered it, he said, for she was attempting to give birth to 
twins. The foetal heartbeats of both were strong in the morning 
when he had examined her. But he had dismissed the idea. Her la- 
bor had lasted until seven in the evening, and, while she had sur- 
vived it, both babies had died. 

"Had we done a Caesarean section in the morning," the honest 
man confessed, "both children and mother might have been 

Courage is better than conformity when it is coupled with skill 
and directed by a passion for saving lives. Dr. Dan was showing 
them the way and DeLee was great enough to recognize it. 

Dr. Dan sometimes discussed his papers with his office neighbor 
Charles Kahlke before he presented them. He liked Kahlke's quick 
and darting mind, so in accord with his own, and he could not but 
respond to the man's evident friendliness. When Kahlke asked his 


advice concerning a contemplated real estate investment, Dr. Dan 
gave it readily. "It was canny advice, too," said Kahlke years later. 

Soon the two doctors were off shooting quail and partridge to- 
gether out of Michigan City. Once or twice they went with Dr. 
EL B. Woodward and Dr. C. Gurnee Fellows on a fishing trip to 
Rice Lake. His white companions liked Dr. Dan's strong face, 
strong jaw and yet reticent, soft-spoken manner; and they liked 
the way he quietly ignored any discrimination that came his way. 
Dr. Dan's friendships were based on congeniality, not race. 
Among his colored friends, Julius Avendorph and Robert L. Tay- 
lor were his frequent week-end companions. 

Dr. Dan resumed his hunting and fishing with immense satisfac- 
tion. The elemental joys of forest and stream were in his blood, 
the blood of his Indian forebears. Away from the city and pres- 
sure of people, he was at peace. He would light the last of the 
three Little Tom cigars he allowed himself in a day and enjoy its 
fragrance while the others talked. 

Bringing his trophies back to town he persuaded Alice to hang 
their dining room walls, not with pictures, but with four particu- 
larly brilliant specimens of pheasants he had first shot, then stuffed 
with his own hands. Guests never failed to exclaim over the splen- 
didly marked birds, the sole decoration in the room. 

Dr. Dan needed these week ends all the more after his schedule 
was further burdened by his appointment to the attending staff of 
Cook County Hospital. His old classmate, Dr. Charles Davison, 
was on the staff, as were Drs. William E. Schroeder, Thomas A. 
Davis, and the colorful Weller Van Hook, pioneer in surgery of 
the genito-urinary tract and ardent theosophist as well. However, 
the big showman dominating everything was John B. Murphy. In 
contrast Dr. Dan, on the same service with Murphy, stood out for 
his opposite qualities. Kindness is not a characteristic always ex- 
hibited by the older staff toward the younger men, and the in- 
ternes, among them James M. Phalen, years later editor of the 
U. S. Army surgeons' organ, The Military Surgeon, were grate- 
ful for Dr. Dan's gentle courtesy. 

At St. Luke's Hospital where Dr. Dan had many white patients, 

1 86 Daniel Hale Williams 

he had opportunities too, and used them, to be kind to another 
young interne, Dr. Frank W. Van Kirk. Van Kirk's father had 
been Dan's friend in the old days in Janesville and he was glad to 
be useful to the son. 

Dr. Dan went back to Janesville occasionally now and took his 
beautiful wife to spend week ends with his old classmate, James 
Mills. Frank Pember was not there; he had failed in health and 
gone South. Mills, the Scot, was dividing his time between medi- 
cine and the temperance cause. Occasionally Mills came up to 
Chicago and he and Dr. Dan attended a class reunion. Sometimes 
Dr. Dan served on the committee. Returning to Janesville, Mills 
would drop into the Gazette office and insert an item: 


Dr. D. H. Williams, the prominent Chicago surgeon, Dr. 
Frank Pember, Dr. James Mills and the late Dr. Hugh Men- 
zies, all of this city . . . 

What Dr. Mills's small sons could never understand was why 
their father's white-skinned visitors were Negroes. Even today 
they remember how quick were Dr. Dan's every move, his con- 
versation, his darting bright eyes. And how very fond their father 
was of his old associate. 

These were pleasant interludes in Dr. Dan's heavy schedule. Re- 
laxed among these old friends, perhaps he occasionally strummed 
a guitar once more and sang Carrie Jacobs Bond's new song, "I 
Love You Truly." Carrie was Ida Williams's stepsister, and the 
song was written right in Janesville, on East Milwaukee Street. 

Alice Williams enjoyed greatly her first experience of living in 
the North. It seemed marvelously unrestricted to one who had 
suffered the color line all her life. "What I like about Chicago," 
she wrote back to Washington, "is its Freedom" 9 and she under- 
scored the word. Later she found race prejudice was not lacking 
in the North too. She returned home one day in great indigna- 
tion. Some white woman on the trolley car had refused to sit by 
a colored woman. 


"So I went right up to the poor thing and sat by her," she re- 
ported. Since Alice Williams showed not the slightest trace of her 
African blood in her appearance, her act could only be taken as 
the reproof it was meant to be. 

All agreed that Dr. Dan had chosen a most beautiful woman for 
his wife. Her taste in dress was strikingly simple and set off her 
loveliness to every advantage. Years later women remembered ex- 
actly what she had worn and the date when she wore it. "The first 
time she came to call on me," said one, "she was all in white, with 
a big white hat, a little black velvet bow at her neck with long 
streamers, and a black velvet bow on her hat ... it was the sum- 
mer of 1 899, after she lost her baby." 

The baby that might have made so much difference in the lives 
of Alice and Daniel Williams did not reach this world alive. Ev- 
erything that could be done was done. Dr. Dan's friend DeLee, 
who saved so many babies, could not save this longed-for little 
creature; only his great skill saved Alice. Dr. Dan could not hide 
his grief. He wept unashamedly in Otto Schmidt's car one day 
when in the company of Schmidt, Frank Billings and DeLee. John 
Mallet, Schmidt's chauffeur, came home and told his wife. 

Alice Williams was ill a long time. "I went to the very brink of 
the grave," she wrote Caddie. But in the Victorian manner, out of 
consideration for the circumstances, people did not call or talk 
of the disappointment. Afterwards Alice never mentioned the sub- 
ject to Chicago acquaintances though she wrote an intimate 
Washington friend that she was still hoping for a child. Dr. Dan 
never told her how drastic DeLee's operation had been and that 
she would never have another baby. 

Her ordeal over, Alice regained excellent health though she 
had to admit that she had grown stouter. Whenever she wrote to 
Washington she could not help but remember that there were 
those back East who had doubted her capacity to be a good wife 
to a busy and popular doctor. One day she sat down and filled 
sheet after sheet of her engraved notepaper in a long letter to her 
first schoolteacher, Sarah Fleetwood, 

1 88 Daniel Hale Williams 

"When I came," Alice wrote in her even copperplate hand, "I 
determined that I would help my husband keep his friends and 
that I would aim to have them take me into their hearts. They 
were quite ready to do so. They were anxious to see what man- 
ner of woman T)r. Dan's' wife was. Much to the surprise of my 
Washington friends " she put a question mark after the word 
"who predicted that I would not make a physician a good wife, I 
have made," she ended triumphantly, "a pretty good one. I miss 
my associations in Washington very much and often find myself 
thinking wistfully of them. But there are so many compensations," 
she finished, "I have made hosts of friends." 

If the local press was any evidence, Alice Williams had little 
"time to herself. "Mrs. B. K. Bruce will be guest of Mrs. D. H. Wil- 
liams," said one issue. A few days after she had entertained the 
widow of the famous colored Senator, the newspaper reported 
that "Mrs. Dr. Daniel H. Williams gave a very instructive talk at 
the Phillis Wheatley Club on how to teach the children of the 
sewing school in a more systematic and methodical way, and 
showed the ladies samples of work done in the sewing schools of 
Washington, D. C." 

And then in another few days, Mrs. Williams had y turned over 
her home to the King's Daughters for an Evening^ Shakespeare. 
The entertainment was to raise funds for charity and so twenty- 
five cents was collected from each one present. Violin solos and 
numbers by the Crest Trio opened and closed the evening and 
were interpolated throughout the program. Alice Williams had 
worked conscientiously over her paper on "Some Women of 
Shakespeare" and doubtless it did show, as the society reporter 
said, "evidence of the highest mark of intelligence," but people 
perhaps enjoyed more the production of the courtroom scene 
from The Merchant of Venice. Richard B. Harrison, a clerk in 
the post office, put enough passion into his Shylock that evening 
in Dr. Dan's parlor to explain his later Broadway success as De 
Lawd in Green Pastures. Antonio was portrayed by Albert 
George, somewhat later Chicago's first colored judge, and Portia 


was played by Mrs. George C. Hall towering, red-haired, ef- 

After the program everyone flocked into the dining room and 
was served refreshments by maids and pages costumed in pink 
and white. The whole first floor of the house was decked out with 
pink and white "cut flowers," the reporter called them, and scin- 
tillating candelabra. Altogether it was an occasion long to be re- 
membered and the newswriter carefully recorded all names. Julius 
N. Avendorph of course was master of ceremonies, as he was 
for every major event in the colored social scene. On the com- 
mittee were the wives of Dr. Dan's old friends and associates at 
Provident Hospital, including the new Mrs. Bentley, formerly 
Florence Lewis, another booklover like Alice Williams, and Harry 
Anderson's new wife, the former Julia Settles. Harry Anderson 
had found life lonely with all his children gone from home and 
had married for the third time. 

These women did not ordinarily welcome the aspiring Mrs. 
George Hall, whose laughter and clothes were both apt to be a 
little loud. But the King's Daughters was a church group, open 
to everyone, and Theodocia Brewer Hall was a King's Daughter. 
Besides this was an entertainment for charity and all bars were 
down. However, when Dr. Hall called for his wife, unfortunately 
the housemaid left him standing in the hall holding his hat and 
failed to invite him into the parlor, while she fetched his wife. 
George Hall was sure it was an intentional slight and told one of 
the doctors Dr. Dan should pay for it some day. 

It was not the same Dr. Dan who had come back to Chicago 
from the pain and disillusionment of Washington. To old friends 
and adoring patients he was unchanged, still their tireless friend 
and advisor, the one to whom they inevitably turned in trouble. 
Newcomers, however, found themselves somewhat diffident in 
Dr. Dan's presence. As he walked along the street in his eternal 
black suit and black derby, black topcoat added in colder weather, 
his long, narrow black shoes with the toes a little turned up, 
looking as though they had been polished, as they doubtless were, 

190 Daniel Hale Williams 

by himself he was a somber figure. And he was forever lost in 
thought, with his shoulders bent forward, his head down and his 
gait compulsive to some inner drive. He saw no one, so absorbed 
in study would he be. To get his attention, he must be spoken to. 
Then if it was an old friend, he responded warmly and cordially, 
and even occasionally indulged in a mild sort of witticism. To 
someone less known to him, while he was always polite, there 
was something remote, cool even, in his courtesy. His manner 
sometimes repelled sensitive persons, already awed by the fame 
that now attended his name, while to envious persons this man 
was arrogant, a snob. 

In contrast George Hall seemed a fine man, jolly, full of anec- 
dotes. He was popular. He got on committees easily, went into 
politics, was a wonder on the platform. He understood crowd 
psychology, knew how to sway large groups, became a public 
figure. You perhaps had the key to all his activity when you 
heard him orate to a younger man: "These doctors who stick so 
hard to their doctoring, it wouldn't hurt their business a bit if 
they mixed around more, got on some committees." 

Negroes who did not see what harm he was doing and f ew 
did came to look upon George Hall as a great fighter for the 


Moses to Negro Medicine 

WITHIN a few months after Dr. Dan's return to Chicago, on 
three separate occasions, colored women traveled up from Ala- 
bama and Georgia to be operated on by him. Southern Negroes 
desperately needed medical care. Forbidden entrance to white 
hospitals, or treated offensively when they were admitted, or 
worse still treated as guinea pigs, they died by the thousands an- 
nually. Dr. Dan's soul revolted against this cruelty and human 
waste. To change white prejudice was hopelessly slow. Negroes 
themselves, he felt, must exert greater effort to advance medicine 
and nursing within the race. 

He decided to urge again upon Booker T. Washington the need 
for a medical and surgical center for the colored in the South. It 
was a matter he had already suggested, but without success, to 
the Tuskegee Institute principal, now turned national Negro po- 
litical leader. 

These two Negro pioneers, exactly of an age, both educators 
and organizers, yet so different in background and temperament, 
had met in 1895. Even before that Dr. Dan, Lloyd Wheeler and 
other prominent Chicagoans had given support to Booker T. 
Washington and his struggling industrial school. They had sent 
money, magazines and clothing. At the Cotton States Exposition 
in Atlanta, where Dr. Dan helped organize the National Medical 

192 Daniel Hale Williams 

Association and where Booker Washington made his famous con- 
ciliatory speech to the Southern whites and won leadership of the 
race, the two men met, if they had not met before. 

A couple of years later Booker Washington, already a candi- 
date for the political mantle of the late Frederick Douglass, vis- 
ited Freedmen's Hospital and afterwards wrote Dr. Dan that he 
had never seen anything done under the supervision of a man of 
their race that had given him so much encouragement. "I was not 
in your hospital two minutes before I saw as I had never seen 
before, what you are," he declared and then asked Dr. Dan if he 
could spend two or three days at Tuskegee showing them how to 
get their "medical and nurse training departments" on a proper 

Tuskegee's medical facilities consisted of a two-story frame 
cottage set aside as an infirmary for sick students. There was no 
training of nurses in the modern sense. Dr. Dan leaped at the 
chance to turn this infirmary into a real hospital and training 
school to serve not only Tuskegee but all the area round. To his 
mind the need was so clear, the means for meeting it so ready to 
his hand, that he never stopped to guess Booker Washington might 
not have the desire to go so far. 

Dr. Dan wrote the Tuskegee principal that he had a scheme 
that would be almost self-supporting. "You could draw work 
from all over the South," he said, "and build a Monument there 
and care for thousands of those poor people who die for the want 
of surgical attention." And then, probably as a gesture of gener- 
ous reassurance, he added, "I would stand for the success or fail- 
ure of the work." 

It now looks as if this last remark proved disturbing to Wash- 
ington, who was just beginning to taste the delights of leadership. 
Tuskegee Industrial Institute was still small. Booker Washington 
wanted his own project to grow up before adding a tail that 
might out wag it. If there were to be any Monuments, Tuskegee 
itself must become one first. To get Dr. Dan down there for three 
days of advice was a different matter from having so forceful an 
organizer about too long. So he asked Dr. Dan to train an interne 


to run his little infirmary and evaded any idea of expanding it into 
a community hospital. 

But Dr. Dan could not forget the vision he had caught of an- 
other hospital for his race, a hospital needed even more than had 
been Provident or Freedmen's. Again he wrote Booker Washing- 
ton. Patients had corne to him, he said, all the way from Alabama. 
They had talked of colored people back home, dying for lack of 
care. Would it not be a good idea, Dr. Dan asked Booker Wash- 
ington, "to develop at Tuskegee under your direction a self -pay ing 
institution? Many who would come for treatment could pay for 
it. And the progressive colored physicians of the South would 
flock to Tuskegee to take advantage of the opportunities you 
would offer them for their development." 

All that colored men want, Dr. Dan pleaded, is the opportunity. 
They made the best soldiers in the world, he reminded Booker 
Washington it was but a few weeks past that colored infantry 
had rushed in to save Theodore Roosevelt's Rough Riders and to 
take San Juan Hill and they would make the best surgeons too, 
given the proper chance to learn. He offered to come at stated 
intervals to assist. "I think it is a great field," he ended, "and one 
that would pay its own way. Give me your idea of it." And then 
he added cordially, "When you come to Chicago, come to see us." 

Booker Washington came to Chicago in October and Dr. Dan 
wrote him again, addressing a note to his hotel. Again he assured 
Washington he was interested in his, Washington's, plan. He said 
he had talked it over with some wealthy Chicago people and they 
thought highly of it. He hoped to discuss the matter with Wash- 
ington while he was in the city. "Could you spare time," Dr. Dan 
wrote, "to take dinner with us at 5:30 any day but Wednesday?" 

Even with this self-effacement on Dr. Dan's part, even with all 
the eloquence he could bring to bear, Booker Washington was 
not to be won. He left the city without seeing Dr. Dan or express- 
ing any interest that funds might be available for a healing and 
teaching center for his neglected people. He wrote only that his 
time was more than taken. 

Fortunately others were not so indifferent as the politically ambi- 

194 Daniel Hale Williams 

tious Booker Washington to what Dr. Dan had to offer. Within 
a few months he was approached by George W. Hubbard, aging 
white dean of colored Meharry Medical College in Nashville. 
Dean Hubbard came, at the urging of two colored doctors on 
his staff, R. F. Boyd and F. A. Stewart, to lay claim to Dr. Dan's 

Meharry Medical College, "dedicated to the worship of God 
through service to man," had begun educating Negro doctors ten 
years after Emancipation. Nashville, like the national capital, had 
become a center for Negro education as a result of the influx of 
colored refugees there during the Civil War. The religious con- 
science of the country had sent a throng of missionaries South in 
the wake of the Union armies. At Nashville efforts to feed and 
clothe the hungry and naked were followed by the setting up of 
schools in churches and other buildings hastily prepared for the 
purpose. Three denominations vied with each other in the good 
work and out of it grew as many universities: Baptist Roger Wil- 
liams University; Methodist Central Tennessee College; and Con- 
gregational Fisk University. 

All birth is wonderful but none more so than the travail out of 
which was brought forth these war-begot Negro universities. First 
the hungry and frightened refugees, naked or in tatters. Then, no 
sooner fed and clothed, these eager men and women begging the 
long-denied privilege of learning to read and write. The first year 
there could be only a first grade, and all ages sat on the rude 
benches together. Next year there were both first and second 
grades. Each year a new grade was added. Finally a normal de- 
partment could be set up for those who were now ready to turn 
around and impart the cherished knowledge to others. A theologi- 
cal department would come next, thanks to the churches. 

Some colored men began to inquire whether they could not 
learn to be doctors. Central Tennessee College organized a medi- 
cal department ten short years after its primary school had been 
opened, safeguarding the venture by requiring all students to take 
an oath not to drink, swear or divulge the secrets of the dissecting 
room. In time the theological and literary departments of the col- 


lege, rejuvenated briefly as Walden University, faded away. The 
medical department survived, thanks to aid from the five Meharry 
brothers, and in their honor the school was renamed Meharry 
Medical College. By the turn of the century, Meharry had grad- 
uated 410 persons, fully half the doctors who attempted to serve 
the colored South. 

Dean Hubbard was anxious that with numbers there should be 
no flagging in quality. Though Flexner's expose would not come 
for a decade, the reform wave was on in American medical edu- 
cation. Meharry Medical College had always given an honest 
training. Meharry was founded to meet a definite need. Its teach- 
ers had been earnest and enthusiastic. Now problems of standards, 
staffs and curricula were agitating the medical educational scene 
the country over and there were to be many fatalities among med- 
ical schools, white and colored. 

Dr. Dan agreed readily enough to go down to Meharry as vis- 
iting professor of clinical surgery for a week or ten days each year 
without recompense. Ever since he left college he had been teach- 
ing as well as leading an active life as doctor and surgeon. He 
loved to teach and he was a master before whom clinical students, 
and older men too, sat spellbound. His techniques were unerringly 
at his command, his judgments came unhesitatingly, his explana- 
tions were clear and fluent. Above all he passed on to those who 
sat before him his own passion for knowledge. At Howard Uni- 
versity he had touched one of the two main nerve centers of sur- 
gical education of the Negro. Now, fortunately, at Meharry he 
would touch the other. 

He threw himself into the work with zeal. The situation, how- 
ever, demanded more than a yearly visit from him. That visit 
could not be effective without hospital facilities. A temporary op- 
erating room could always be rigged up, but patients must have 
postoperative care, and no colored doctor or interne was allowed 
in the hospitals of Nashville. Meharry had struggled along with- 
out bedside instruction, either medical or surgical, as long as it 
could; its continued existence as a proper medical school de- 
manded practice facilities and continuing care of patients. 

196 Daniel Hale Williams 

The faculty recognized the problem. Dr. R. F. Boyd, a coura- 
geous, self-made man, first president of the National Medical As- 
sociation, had done what he could. Some years previously he had 
opened up two "hospital" rooms in the basement under his of- 
fices. Here a few obstetrical cases could be attended by Meharry 
seniors before they went out to attempt professional work. The 
last Meharry Announcement had pointed with pride to these "ex- 
cellent" clinical privileges. It was a great advance over nothing at 
all. In one of these dark basement rooms, by lamp and candlelight, 
Dr. Dan performed four successful operations on his first visit to 
Nashville. But these were scarcely the quarters for a clinic and 
they would scarcely impress the Committee of Standards of the 
American Medical Association. 

Before he left Nashville, Dr. Dan had a frank talk with Dean 
Hubbard in the presence of Boyd and Stewart. There was no use, 
he told the dean, educating colored men to be doctors if they 
could not give them interne training. A young man who has had 
the advantage of the hard practical drill received in a hospital, he 
said, is ten years ahead of the man who is deprived of that advan- 
tage. If the white hospitals of the South would not accept colored 
internes nor permit colored physicians to practice in the hospi- 
tals, then there was only one thing to do. "We can't sit any longer 
idly and inanely deploring existing conditions," he said. "We must 
start our own hospitals and training schools!" 

Hubbard was doubtful but Stewart and Boyd listened atten- 
tively as Dr. Dan recounted how Provident was started. 

At the end Boyd asked, "Will you come down here and tell 
that story to our people here?" Boyd had worked for years as a 
bricklayer and a janitor to get his own education; he knew what 
could be accomplished when the will was there. 

"We'll gather them in, if you'll just talk to them as you've 
talked to us here today," Stewart cried, and added slyly that he 
would arrange some quail shooting on his brother-in-law's farm. 

Soon after New Year's Day 1900, Dr. Dan went back to Nash- 
ville. All day after his arrival his talk was not scheduled until 
evening a half dozen Meharry instructors tramped with him 


over the brown fields and in and out of the copses on the W. H. 
Compton farm, attended by the faithful soft-eyed bird dogs. Dr. 
Dan enjoyed his hunt and won the lasting admiration of his host. 
Years later Mr. Compton recalled what a "splendid shot" the great 
surgeon was. 

That evening, before a capacity audience of his people gath- 
ered at the Phillis Wheatley Club, Dr. Dan began to speak. Every 
city in the South, he said, with a population of 10,000 colored 
people should have a hospital and training school There was no 
education, he pointed out, which would yield such permanent and 
practical results as training young colored women to be nurses. 
Aside from the fact that a young woman was personally bene- 
fited, given an opportunity for lucrative employment, she was 
made a useful and valuable member of any community where she 
might live. She taught people cleanliness, thrift, habits of indus- 
try, sanitary housekeeping, the proper care of themselves and of 
their children. She taught them how to prepare food, the selec- 
tion of proper clothing for the sick and the well, and how to meet 
emergencies. "In short," said Dr. Dan, no doubt stirring the im- 
agination of more than one woman in his audience, "I consider 
the trained nurse the most desirable addition to a community, not 
excepting the school teacher." 

He told them how highly the colored trained nurse was re- 
garded both by some of the best families in the land and by the 
most distinguished surgeons. There had been doubts, he frankly 
said, as to whether young colored women had the ability to stand 
the test of emergency, to preserve composure at the operating ta- 
ble, to learn the techniques of surgical preparation and the details 
of the operating room. But, said Dr. Dan beaming upon them, it 
has been amply demonstrated that colored women make excel- 
lent nurses. Only seven years ago, he told them, Provident had 
sent out its first class of three graduate nurses. Now there were 
two hundred, and as many more in training. What better way was 
there, he asked them, to escape the prejudice that kept down an 
educated, refined colored woman than to enter nurses' training? 

198 Daniel Hale Williams 

The way was open wherever a colored community started a 

"You can and you should," said Dr. Dan, "establish such an in- 
stitution in Nashville at once." He did not let them think things 
would be too easy. "You will have many discouragements to con- 
tend with at the start," he warned them. "Lack of confidence," he 
said, "has always been a deterrent in our relations with each 
other." The ignorant and naturally suspicious would have to be 
induced gradually to relinquish their unquestioning faith in the 
infallible skill and judgment of the white man. "On the other 
hand," he cautioned, "we must demonstrate our right to confi- 

He mentioned other things they had not thought of. The first 
requisite to the successful formation of any undertaking, he told 
them, was that those who entered into it should be unselfish and 
firmly of the opinion it was the right thing to do. They must ex- 
amine themselves, he said, and determine to their own satisfac- 
tion that they had the qualities within them, or among them, for 
organization, industry, perseverance and self-sacrifice. After that 
they might select a leader someone with influence and enthu- 
siasm. "Bring to that leader," said Dr. Dan, "all the support 

After they had elected officers and assigned to each the work 
for which he was best fitted, then they could start to raise their 
first money. Go about it systematically, he said, cover the field. 
Few people would refuse to contribute something towards the 
support of a hospital. And by all means, he said, make an early 
start, however small. "It is better to start in a small way and 
grow," said Dr. Dan, "than to commence with a flourish and dwin- 
dle down to a failure." 

He explained that a hospital of twenty-five beds, properly man- 
aged, was almost self-supporting. He advised them not to attempt 
to build a hospital right away. "Rent a house," he said, "of ten or 
twelve rooms, preferably one with a basement, furnish it mod- 
estly, so that it can be easily cleaned and kept clean. Select a level- 
headed graduate nurse for superintendent. . . . Appoint upon 


your staff the best physicians obtainable, . . . Have your head 
nurse appoint as student nurses as many well educated, well- 
mannered young women as can be accommodated. 7 ' As always he 
set a high standard for personnel. It was the cheapest in the long 
run, he said. "Then, when you have completed your prepara- 
tory work," he said, "open your doors and your success will be 

"Before the founding of Provident Hospital," Dr. Dan told 
them, "there was not in this country a single hospital or training 
school for nurses owned and managed by colored people . . . 
that was nine years ago . . . now there are twelve! And without 
a single failure!" These were facts to stir an oppressed people. 

As Dr. Dan looked down into the rows of black faces, he may 
have thought back to his early days in Janesville. He may have 
seen in memory Harry Anderson's Tonsorial Parlor and Bathing 
Rooms on Main Street, himself snipping away at Orrin Guernsey's 
whiskers, listening to Guernsey and Anderson and the local Con- 
gressman talk. "Pity won't help us," Anderson had so often said. 
Dr. Dan went on: 

"Our white friends cannot do for us what we can do for our- 
selves. Dependency on the part of the Negro has always proved 
a detriment. When we have learned to do well 'what we have the 
ability to do, we will have accomplished much towards changing 
sentiments now against us." 

He believed this, he made them believe it, but he was also a 
realist. He did not leave them without saying one more word. "Do 
not be deterred," warned Dr. Dan, "by the thought you may en- 
counter antagonism. Few enterprises, even those for the better- 
ment of mankind, have smooth sailing from the start. The Provi- 
dent Hospital project," he told them, "met with fierce opposi- 
tion in some quarters . . , and when I entered upon my duties at 
Washington, I was very much discouraged by the condition of af- 
fairs." He mentioned then the name sure to stir them, Frederick 
Douglass, and he repeated the words Douglass had spoken to him 
a half dozen years before: 

"The only way you can succeed is to override the obstacles in 

200 Daniel Hale Williams 

your path. Hope will be of no avail. ... By the power that is 
within you do what you hope to do!" 

By September colored Nashville had opened its own hospital, a 
large residence on Cherry Street in which were placed twelve 
beds at first, later twenty-three, and then thirty-five as the work 
grew and prospered. Here Dr. Dan held his clinics, the great event 
of the Meharry medical year, attended not only by students but 
by alumni and doctors from the country around. After a while 
even the white doctors in Nashville began coming, as white doc- 
tors had come in Washington. "They never saw such a clean, 
swift operator," said John Hamilton Holman later when he him- 
self had served many years as Meharry's professor of pathology 
and bacteriology. "Why, Dr. Dan could sew up a man faster than 
any sewing machine ever made!" 

Dr. Dan opened the whole field of modern surgery to Meharry 
students, and faculty too, as he had opened it to Howard Univer- 
sity students and faculty. The annual school catalogue enumer- 
ated the "rare and difficult" list: removal of fibroid tumors, dis- 
eased ovaries and tubes, ovarian cysts, appendectomies. . . . After 
the home tonsil removals of F. A. Stewart and the hernia repairs 
of W. J. Snead, Meharry's previous professors of surgery, these 
were exciting adventures. Enrolments climbed sixty per cent in 
no time. Meharry's immediate future was secure. 

Young men did any sort of menial work to finance themselves at 
Meharry while Dr. Dan was there. "We knew he had worked hard 
himself, on lake boats, in barber shops," said Dr. W. A. Reed of 
these days. "I thought about that sometimes more than I thought 
about his techniques when I watched him operating." Dr. Dan's 
example gave his students the courage to go on waiting on tables, 
cleaning out laboratories, working on Pullman cars during vaca- 
tion. Some of them would never become surgeons just because 
they would not be able to "afford the setup," but they were stim- 
ulated to be better doctors. 

Everything had to be shipshape when Dr. Dan arrived to con- 
duct his clinics, Dr. G. Hamilton-Francis recalls, for he would 
tolerate no less. But he was always encouraging, always willing to 


lend an ear to the problems of the inexperienced. He made a spe- 
cial effort to temper his explanations to a fellow's comprehension 
and ability to understand. After he left, his operations and lec- 
tures were subjects of conversation and discussion for weeks and 
his influence was felt throughout the year. Some of the young 
men he trained were graduated with honors and joined the Me- 
harry faculty - W. A. Reed, J. A. McMillan, J. H. Hale and in 
their turn handed down the Williams tradition to others who 
came later. 

The same autumn Dr. Dan started his clinics at Meharry, he 
went to St. Louis to participate in the National Medical Associa- 
tion's annual meeting. Dr. J. Edward Perry remembers how col- 
ored doctors of the West anu South surged in at the promise of 
seeing operations performed by the great Daniel Williams. The 
Municipal Hospital grudgingly agreed to allow the colored group 
to hold its clinics in its amphitheater and promised to provide the 

Dr. Dan was advised that an accident case needing brain sur- 
gery was being furnished him. A hospital cart was rolled in, on it 
a baby of nine or ten months who had fallen from a window. The 
baby was dying, Dr. Dan saw as soon as he looked at it. He turned 
to the waiting colored men and described the moribund condition 
of the little creature. 

"This is what they think we will operate upon," he said, "but 
we will kindly return it to the ward and not add insult to injury." 

He then sought to make up to the disappointed men by lectur- 
ing at length on head injuries and various types of fractures of the 
skull. It was a classic discourse. When it was completed, Dr. Dan 
engaged his audience in a heart-to-heart talk on the surgical and 
medical situation confronting the Negro. 

"Men," he said, "you must bestir yourselves." If they sat idly 
by and waited for Providence and luck, he told them, they'd be 
there a thousand years. When they left that amphitheater, they 
must go out with the determination to have more hospitals, bet- 
ter medical men and more scientific surgeons, he declared, and 

202 Daniel Hale Williams 

they must build the hospitals themselves. "I'll come and help you," 
he said, "whenever I possibly can." Booker Washington's indif- 
ference had made him redouble his own efforts. 

Out in Missouri a few months later, young Perry remembered 
Dr. Dan's words. He had as patient an elderly woman who showed 
the beginnings of cancer of the breast. He knew an immediate op- 
eration might prolong her life as much as five years. He felt all 
the more concern about the case because he felt he owed his own 
life to the care with which this woman had nursed him, a worn- 
out young practitioner, through pneumonia. When the local hos- 
pital at the state university refused to admit her because of her 
color and despite the fact her husband was well able to pay the 
fees, Perry was in despair until he remembered Dr. Dan's words. 
Immediately he posted a letter to Chicago and to his joy received 
a quick response. Dr. Dan would come. First he sent certain ad- 
vance orders and Perry and the woman's husband proceeded to 
carry them out, strange though they seemed. Perry remembered 
every detail years later. 

The two men took all movable furnishings out of the big 
kitchen-dining room and painted the ceiling, walls and floor. By 
the time the paint was dry, Dr. Dan's nurse had arrived, a brisk, 
starched woman who kept them busy for two days. Under her 
direction, they baked sheets and towels in the oven of the stove 
out in the summer kitchen. On top of the stove they set the five- 
gallon wash boiler, after careful cleaning, to sterilize water. They 
kept the water bubbling a full half hour, then the nurse spread 
over it one of the baked sheets. With others she covered the stove 
and dish cupboards in the proposed operating room. At her bid- 
ding the men went over the freshly painted walls again, with a 
solution of permanganate of potash. They stretched out the din- 
ing table to capacity and added all its extra leaves, then scrubbed 
and covered it with a clean quilt, next with a sheet. A sterilized 
sheet would be added at the last minute. When all was ready, they 
closed doors and windows, stuffed the crevices with cotton, and 
set formaldehyde crystals to fumigate the immaculate room. 

There were only two other colored doctors in that part of Mis- 


souri. Perry sent them word and they came, by buggy, getting up 
at dawn and driving, one twenty-five miles and the other thirty- 
five, to watch the operation. To these three men Dr. Dan gave a 
full classroom lecture. He described minutely the anatomy of the 
breast. He told how the cells of the milk ducts change when at- 
tacked by cancer, and why there is retraction of the nipple. Lost 
in his subject, his voice rose and took on an excitement that com- 
municated itself to Perry and the other two doctors. He described 
the various types of operation in vogue for removal of the breast, 
and what method he would use, and why. He went to as much 
pains to make everything clear as if a full amphitheater were be- 
fore him. Then under their watchful eyes, greedy of every move 
he made, he set swiftly to work, continuing to talk as he operated 
explaining, describing, answering questions. 

Never had they had such an opportunity before. More than 
probably, they never would again. When Dr. Dan was through, 
they knew they had been in the presence of a great man, a mod- 
est man who put them at ease. They felt a new sense of their own 
worth, and responsibility, as colored doctors. They would never 
completely lose courage after that. 

As for the patient, Dr. Dan's nurse stayed with her for a week 
and her recovery was "uneventful." She lived for six years. 

This was the beginning. Soon Dr. Dan, despite his marriage, de- 
spite his heavy private practice and all the demands upon him in 
Chicago, was traveling everywhere, from the Great Lakes to the 
Gulf, at the call of colored doctors who needed him. He might 
have gone back to teaching at his alma mater and added to his 
stature among white men, but he was a Williams and he devoted 
himself to black men as his clan had always done. 

Sometimes the call came from a former student or interne, 
lonely practitioners struggling to find their way in a difficult 
white-dominated profession that gave them little welcome. Some- 
times several colored doctors would group their serious surgical 
cases, collect a fund to cover travel expenses, and invite Dr. Dan 
to spend several days with them, operating, demonstrating and 

204 Daniel Hale Williams 

When he was not traveling, he was writing letters, answering 
questions. "I have a case of enlarged cervical glands. What shall 
I do?" came a plea from Arkansas, and Dr. Dan's prompt advice 
gave confidence and assured success to an isolated young profes- 

"He never failed to respond to our requests," said Edward 
Perry later after he himself had built up two hospitals. The more 
difficult the situation, the more Dr. Dan's pioneer blood raced to 
conquer it. He operated and lectured in kitchens, dining rooms 
and parlors. Once the only light was a kerosene lamp and it had 
to be held at some distance lest the ether fumes ignite. Once, in 
the Deep South, the crowd of knowledge-thirsty doctors was so 
much greater than the available small bedroom could accommo- 
date that the patient was carried out under the boughs of a tree 
and there Dr. Dan, pressed round by eager black faces, poured 
out the gospel according to ^sculapius. To an unknown number 
of these informal schools Dr. Dan carried the light of his skill and 
understanding and left with countless ardent young doctors the 
inspiration and courage that enabled them to live out lives of des- 
perately needed usefulness. 

Despite the satisfactions of his work in the South and West, 
Dr. Dan grieved over the setback in the East to his magnificent 
achievements at Freedmen's Hospital. His successor Curtis was a 
good surgeon, but Curtis had not retained the direction of Freed- 
men's very long. In 1901 Warfield, despite his failure to pin dis- 
honesty on Dr. Dan, was emboldened to make similar charges 
against Curtis. This time he succeeded and Curtis was forced out. 
Warfield, who had taken pains to make the proper connections, 
was appointed surgeon-in-chief. Shortly he again for the third 
time brought charges against a colleague this time against 
Charles West of the remarkably high civil service rating. West, 
when he failed of appointment as surgeon-in-chief , had been com- 
pelled for lack of other opportunity to accept an assistant sur- 
geonship in the institution where he should have been head. But 
Warfield did not want him around. So West was accused of dis- 
honesty and ousted. Thereafter Warfield had held undisputed 


sway. A man with pitiful lack of professional ability, clever only 
in self-seeking, he allowed the hospital to sink back into condi- 
tions almost as bad as when Purvis was chief. 

As he traveled, Dr. Dan bucked the color line sometimes, as 
in Dallas, by refusing to operate in lily-white hospitals; other 
times, as in St. Louis, by rebuking the cynicism of white doctors. 
Always he had to be on guard against those who sought to trip 
up a colored surgeon at whatever cost to the patient. But Dr. 
Dan was more than a match for unprincipled provincials. 

In Indianapolis, he put a white staff to shame. Dr. J. H. Ward, 
president of the newly founded Indiana state organization of col- 
ored doctors, invited Dr. Dan to their annual meeting. Rather 
grudging permission had been obtained from the City Hospital to 
hold a surgical clinic there "if a qualified colored surgeon could 
be found." The men assembled happily; they were secure in the 
knowledge they indeed had a qualified man, and they were eager 
to see even one operation and learn from it. 

A white attendant wheeled in a patient, announced it was an 
"abdominal" case, and stood aside with a scarce suppressed sneer 
on his face, as if to say, What can a Negro do? 

"Where is the patient's record?" asked Dr. Dan. Surprised into 
action, the interne brought it. Dr. Dan gave the record a glance 
and laid it down. 

"Please wheel the patient out," he said. 

Like automata set in motion against their will, the attendants 
obeyed. When the patient was out of earshot, Dr. Dan picked up 
the record and turned to the little group of colored doctors, now 
augmented by several white men who had slipped in. 

"Gentlemen," he said, "this case is diabetic and therefore in- 
operable. The urinalysis shows . . ." and he proceeded to give 
a thoroughgoing lecture on the whys and wherefores of the situ- 
ation. It was a masterly dissertation, but there was no operation, 
and that was the end of the first attempted surgical clinic of col- 
ored men in Indianapolis. "We didn't get what we came for," said 
Dr. Lawrence A. Lewis, "but we went away with reinforced faith 
in ourselves." 

206 Daniel Hale Williams 

Dr. Dan never talked much about the frustrations he encoun- 
tered from racial prejudice. Hard work and worthy accomplish- 
ment would eventually win the Negro his rightful place, not 
talk. However, he did enjoy the opportunity presented one day 
for a little mild retaliation. Returning from a trip, he found on his 
desk a letter from the editor of a medical journal published in 
North Carolina. The Southern editor had been reading some fine 
articles, he said, by Daniel Hale Williams in the national medical 
papers and he would deem it a favor if Dr. Williams would allow 
his next article to appear in the North Carolina journal. Dr. Dan 
knew this journal had been running pseudoscientific articles de- 
claring the Negro physician could never gain efficiency in his pro- 
fession because of the formation of the Negro skull. He took some 
pleasure in sitting down and answering that he was a Negro and 
too busy just now to send an article. 

Dr. Dan's Nashville speech of 1900 was reprinted and broadcast 
far and wide. Soon colored hospitals were springing up every- 
where Knoxville, Kansas City, St. Louis, Louisville, Memphis, 
Birmingham, Atlanta, Dallas. In a very few years his moving 
appeal and his practical advice had fostered forty hospitals in 
twenty different states. Today there are a hundred. One little 
North Carolina hospital spoke for them all: 

The hospital has had a wonderful effect on the death rate 
among our people. The deaths used to be three to one when 
compared with the whites, though the colored population 
was only half as large as the white population. But since we 
have had the trained nurse, there is a marked change. 

At one time, seven different Negro schools in the country 
were training colored doctors. Five have failed. The only ones 
to survive are Howard University Medical School and Meharry 
Medical College the two schools which, when newer techniques 
and more stringent standards entered all American medical edu- 
cation, were fortunate enough to be injected with the fervor, the 
unremitting labor, and the uncompromising perfectionism of 
Dr. Dan, Moses to Negro medicine and nursing. 


History-Making Operations 

SELDOM has history produced a doctor as versatile as Dr. Dan. 
His ability to organize and administer was a high quality in itself. 
His talent to inspire and instruct has left an unending influence 
upon doctors both black and white in this country. And with all 
this went his masterful, ever-developing gifts in several areas of 

On a sultry July night in 1902, just such a night as the one when 
Cornish was stabbed, Dr. Dan encountered another patient in- 
jured in a brawl. This time the assailant's instrument was a gun, 
not a knife, and the victim was white, not colored. The man had 
been shot in his left side while stooping over and the ball had 
passed through the space between the eighth and the ninth ribs. 

Though nine years had ensued since Dr. Dan had successfully 
operated on Cornish, surgeons were still reluctant to open up the 
thorax. Abdominal operations had become common, but not so 
with the chest. Throughout the Spanish-American War, men 
wounded in the upper part of the body by gunshot, if they did 
not die at once, were abandoned with a sterile dressing, a strapped 
chest, and a dose of morphine. The possibility of surgical inves- 
tigation and repair was not even considered. Textbooks still ex- 
pressed a timid conservatism on the subject. 

When Dr. Dan was told the position the man had been in when 
shot, he remarked that there was probably no abdominal injury. 

2o8 Dcmiel Hale Williams 

"Balls don't turn corners," he said to the staff men who stood 
watching while he examined the young Irishman, "not unless 
they come into contact with some hard substance." As far as he 
could tell from outer examination there was no injury either to the 
diaphragm or to the abdominal viscera. However, as he always 
did with emergency patients, he ordered an examination of the 
urine, while the man was still on the table. Blood was present 
and Dr. Dan said probably the kidney was involved after all. 

Again he examined the abdomen and found muscular rigidity 
on the left side, with absolute flatness from the twelfth rib into 
the flank. He pointed out to the internes that abdominal respira- 
tion was completely absent an important sign in men, he said, 
of a peritoneal injury. He washed out the bladder, made a second 
catheterization, and again blood was present. 

"Well," said Dr. Dan, straightening up, "only one ball entered 
the body. It must have turned the corner after all." He said he was 
sure now that the abdominal viscera had been injured and he would 
operate at once. 

He made a five-inch incision following the angle of the eighth 
rib, raised and retracted the tissues, and cut through about three 
inches of the seventh and eighth ribs. He was much bolder than 
when he operated on Cornish and gave himself ample space to 
reach the diaphragm. As he worked away quickly, but calmly, 
confident he could master any problem that arose, he explained 
each step to the men standing by. Surgeons worry too much, he 
said, about the invasion of air into the body through an incision; 
he himself had found aspirating the air from the cavity and strap- 
ping the chest firmly with plaster was all that was needed. 

His opening made, Dr. Dan found the diaphragm actually had 
been penetrated, but that tissue had plugged the wound so that 
temporarily the abdominal and pleural spaces had been separated 
as usual. Quickly he repaired the wound in the diaphragm, irri- 
gated the pleural cavity with salt solution, aspirated the air with 
a syringe and closed the outer incision. His hands, nimble as a 
pianist's, moved with lightning speed, without a false motion, al- 
most rhythmically, it appeared to those who watched. 


He still had to discover where the bullet had gone after passing 
through the diaphragm. And he must stop the man's loss of blood 
before it proved fatal. Swiftly he made a seven-inch incision to 
the left of the median abdominal line. With fingers that seemed 
to carry in their sensitive tips the faculties both of seeing and of 
thinking, he examined the intestines and the organs one by one* 
In the inner upper surface of the kidney, he found a wound. His 
opening did not give him good access, and before proceeding 
with the bleeding kidney he hastily closed the incision he had 
just made and made a third one, an oblique incision in the left 
loin, the standard procedure for approaching the kidney. 

When he reached the deep tissue of the lower back, he found it 
bulging into the wound and the space dark with escaped blood. 
As he cut in, dark clots appeared, followed almost immediately 
by profuse arterial hemorrhage. He ceased speaking, his move- 
ments lost their rhythm, became jerky, took on blinding speed. 
Grabbing a tampon from the assistant he controlled the hemor- 
rhage. Then under his direction the assistant continued the deep 
pressure while he separated the damaged kidney from its sur- 
rounding fat and removed it. As he dissected down to the ureter 
he found both that duct and the large branch of the renal artery 
had been cut by the ball. 

Thanks to Dr. Dan's independent judgment, his intelligent 
deductions, and his courageous assumption of responsibility for 
whatever procedure, orthodox or not, which each step indicated, 
the Irishman's life was saved. His recovery was slow, but steady, 
and a year later he was in excellent health. 

The very next day after this challenging operation, Dr. Dan 
was called to Provident Hospital by another chest injury a 
stab wound. It proved to be the most interesting and instructive 
case, he said later, he had ever met. Like his heart operation, it 
was another history-making case. 

At first examination there were no indications for immediate 
operation. It was the sort of thing usually treated on the expectant 
plan and usually resulting in death. The temperature of the pa- 
tient, a man of twenty-seven, was 98, his pulse 92, and good 

no Daniel Hale Williams 

quality. He complained naturally enough of pain in and about 
his chest wound, but there was no hemorrhage from the wound, 
which had closed valve-like, and his heart was normal But he 
breathed with difficulty and soon he developed a short, shrill, 
hacking cough and complained of pain in the left abdomen. Dr. 
Dan found dullness there and some muscular rigidity, but no posi- 
tive signs of hemorrhage into the abdomen. 

As he continued to watch the case, the symptoms became pro- 
gressively urgent. The man could not lie down, his pulse increased 
from 92 to 140, the dullness in the left abdomen increased and the 
muscular rigidity became extreme. All this, with an increase in 
white corpuscle count, pointed to active internal hemorrhage and 
Dr. Dan decided to wait no longer but operate. 

Following the angle of the eighth rib, he cut a trap door as in 
the gunshot case of the day before. Again he found the diaphragm 
had been penetrated and plugged with tissue. Proceeding into 
the abdomen and finding it full of free blood and clots, he dis- 
covered the spleen had been damaged. It was hemorrhaging pro- 
fusely. Slight traction on the surrounding tissue enabled him to 
deliver the organ onto the abdominal wall for examination. Hastily 
he threw a turn of gauze with a drawn loop about the pedicle 
and controlled the hemorrhage. The wound, he saw, extended the 
length of the spleen. 

Dr. Dan stood and looked at the injured organ. What should 
he do? The soft, pulpy, fist-sized mass, so highly vascular, held 
together only by a delicate network of tissues, seemed to defy 
any attempt at repair. Six years earlier Lamarchia had tried to 
suture a spleen; he had failed and his patient had died of second- 
ary hemorrhage. 

Despite history, despite uncertainty, Dr. Dan was willing to 
try. He began suturing, but every stitch tore out of the cheese- 
like tissues as he attempted to draw his loop down. He saw he 
would have to give up or change his tactics. 

Although the properties of catgut had not been extensively 
investigated and were not well known, Dr. Dan was aware that 
wetting catgut caused it to swell. If it swelled, it should engage 


the tissues and hold more firmly to them. Immediately he took up 
a full curved round Mayo needle, threaded with No. 2 catgut, and 
introduced it a half inch back from the margin of the wound. 
Without exerting the least force, he allowed the needle to follow 
its full curve and emerge on the opposite side of the wound the 
same distance from the edge as it had entered. Then he made a 
triple loop, without a reinforcing knot. As the edges of the wound 
came together he applied hot gauze compresses to each loop. 
The catgut swelled, and the stitches held firm! Not one pulled 
out. For twenty minutes he waited to make sure the stitches 
would hold. Satisfied then that the hemorrhage would not start 
up again, he returned the spleen to the abdomen, surrounded it 
with the abdominal tissues, explaining as he did so that the 
omentum had a protective quality important to the healing, and 
then he closed the outer incision. The patient made a rapid and 
permanent recovery and was discharged from Provident thirty- 
one days later. 

A little over a year later, Nicholas Senn published a review 
of surgical experience with the spleen on both sides of the Atlan- 
tic. In America there had been only one successful suture for 
traumatic hemorrhage previous to Dr. Dan's, an operation per- 
formed by Tiffany in Baltimore in 1 894, which Dr. Dan had not 
known. Abroad, out of fourteen cases sutured, two had died; out 
of ten treated with tampon, one had died. While these ventures 
were few in number, the percentage of recovery was high and 
Dr. Dan was stimulated to urge that more men at least attempt 
repair of injured spleens. He sat down and wrote a paper on his 
own case and presented it before the Chicago Medical Society 
one evening in mid- June 1904. 

Not the suture itself but the method of applying the suture was 
the crucial thing, Dr. Dan said. You could not apply suture to 
a bleeding spleen as you would to almost any other tissue in the 
body. "It requires method, technique and a proper adjustment 
of the omentum in the completion of the operation to have a 
successful result," he said. Previous failures were due to ignorance 
of these points. Now, there was every reason not to be dis- 

2i2 Daniel Hale Williams 

couraged, not to reject the challenge. But despite Dr. Dan's urg- 
ing, men still today shrink from tackling a damaged spleen and 
the encyclopedias still say there is only one thing to do remove 
the injured organ. 

Dr. Dan included in his paper the gunshot affair and added still 
another case to show how greatly penetrating wounds of the 
chest can vary. 

This third patient showed no symptoms relevant to any organ 
or viscera within stabbing distance of the walls of the thorax, 
and, without operation to discover the extent of his injuries, the 
man would have died. The fellow had been stabbed, Dr. Dan ex- 
plained, below the sixth rib, one inch from the nipple of the 
breast. When Dr. Dan examined him, his temperature was 97, 
his pulse no, fairly full and regular, and his respiration was 40, 
but his skin was cold and clammy. The heart and lungs were 
negative, except below the sixth rib; from there dullness extended 
downward to the tenth rib. The abdomen was negative too. Ar- 
terial blood was escaping from the intercostal vessels. 

Dr. Dan made an incision, he told the medical society, four 
inches long, following the curve of the sixth rib, forming a trap 
door as in his other cases. When he opened the pleural cavity, 
he had considerably more trouble than in his previous cases. The 
lung collapsed and the right heart was unable to accommodate 
itself to the emergency. Circulation was interfered with danger- 
ously and the patient turned blue. Great haste was required. Dr. 
Dan found two wounds perforating the diaphragm, one on the 
outer or pleural side near the dome, and one in a direct line on the 
inner or pericardial side. He sutured these rapidly and then found 
an irregular wound in the pericardium. Fortunately the heart was 
not injured. 

Ten years previous almost to the day Dr. Dan had sewed up his 
first pericardial case. Then he used very fine catgut. This time he 
chose fine silk. Suturing the fluttering pericardium was like re- 
pairing the wing of a bird in full flight. But he had done it be- 
fore and he managed to do it again. Then he irrigated the pleural 
cavity, closed the chest wound, and continued his incision below 


the diaphragm to explore the abdomen. There he found a punc- 
tured wound of the transverse colon. 

So with no outward indications whatever, his patient had ac- 
tually suffered four internal injuries. Only Dr. Dan's prompt and 
dexterous surgery had saved the man's life. 

From this experience he felt it proper, Dr. Dan said, to urge 
the surgical exploration of the great majority of penetrating 
wounds of the chest below the sixth rib. Not otherwise, he 
pointed out, could one decide the important question of whether 
or not the diaphragm had been perforated. In every case he him- 
self had found the "omnipresent omentum" had temporarily 
plugged the wound openings and masked the symptoms. And 
since the dome of the diaphragm varies in height, it was equally 
impossible to be accurate in estimating the extent of the injury 
done to the viscera. Neither probe nor finger were proper instru- 
ments of exploration. It was far safer, he declared, to open the 
chest and make actual observation, positive diagnosis and direct 
treatment. The imminent risk of lung collapse that always attends 
operative treatment of wounds of the heart and lungs he con- 
sidered less of a danger than blind waiting. 

Dr. Dan's paper had wide circulation. It was printed in its 
entirety in The Annals of Surgery and in more abridged forms 
in the Chicago Medical Recorder and the Illinois Medical Jour- 
nal First-rate surgeons still find it good reading today. 

Dr. Dan did not confine his surgery to any one area of the 
body. His interest carried him into several fields where he de- 
veloped a skill that would now earn him the title of specialist. 
Throughout his career he was opposed to amputations. His early 
railroad cases, his own threatened loss of a leg, had fixed his 
attention upon the possibilities of saving injured extremities, while 
his love of people and concern for their welfare made of every 
case a warm, living actuality. 

One day in 1904 a little six-year-old Irish boy was brought into 
the emergency ward at Provident. He had fallen off a wagon 
and suffered a bad laceration of both skin and tissue from knee 
to ankle, plus a fracture of the ankle. The torn tissue was badly 

214 Daniel Hale Williams 

infected. Tomietta Stokes Beckham, one-time assistant superin- 
tendent of nurses, remembers how every doctor in Provident who 
passed through the ward and saw the case said nothing could be 
done but amputate. But Dr. Dan tenaciously clung to his treat- 
ments. This was a poor boy, he said, who must some day make 
his living. "I'm going to wait," he declared, "until I feel there 
is no chance at all to save that leg." After all Fenger had worked 
half a year to save his leg. 

So Dr. Dan waited, and worked, a week, a month, six months, 
and the boy was finally discharged with just a slight limp, a limp 
that would eventually be outgrown. 

Another time a Rhode Island railroad brakeman was brought in 
with a crushed foot and ankle. Current practice indicated amputa- 
tion. But Dr. Dan refused. He trimmed off evident nonviable tissue, 
including the toes, which were hopelessly crushed, and made no 
attempt at the primary operation to cover all the raw surfaces. 
After the wound was granulating clearly, some four weeks later, 
he fashioned skin flaps and applied razor-cut skin grafts. The 
result was a foot upon which the patient could walk. It was a 
question who was the prouder Dr. Dan or the brakeman. 

For all the extraordinary operations, the history-making sur- 
gery, Dr. Dan was still the family physician too. Old friends 
could not do without him. When Julius Avendorph's sons were 
born, it had to be Dr. Dan who ushered them into the world. 
When the children in the household of Louis B. Anderson, once 
Price Williams's newspaper partner and now a rising Chicago 
lawyer, had to have their tonsils out, their ordeal was made easier 
by riding to the hospital in Dr. Dan's shiny new Red Devil of 
Mitchell make. No other colored doctor had such a car. Jessica, 
six, and her young Uncle Archibald, nine, screamed with delight 
from the rear seat as Dr. Dan turned the handlebar this way and 
that and the corners whizzed by. 

The Williamses had moved to a larger house at 3149 Forest 
Avenue, next door to Bishop Archibald Carey. Madison Davis 
Carey, aged four, tried to walk the fence between Dr. Dan's back 
yard and his own. Davis fell and tore the palm of his hand on a 


projecting nail On Eloise, seven, fell the responsibility of the 
situation; her mother and her father, the bishop, were away at 
a church conference, and the maid, in a dead faint, was useless. 
Eloise ran for Dr. Dan. It was a nasty wound and it hurt, but Dr. 
Dan talked to the children as to contemporaries, to contemporaries 
whom he respected. Davis stopped sobbing while Dr. Dan showed 
them what had to be done and called upon them to help him do 
it. Another time when Dorothy Carey developed a carbuncle on 
her ankle and Eloise accompanied her to Dr. Dan's office, the 
great surgeon carefully explained all about gangrenous tissue and 
why it had to be cut out like a rotten spot out of an apple. Doro- 
thy was fascinated and submitted to the necessities of the situa- 
tion with good grace. 

Mrs. Carey sent a note saying "Money could not pay for 
what you have done," and then forgot to enclose the check 
which gave everybody a good laugh. Mrs. Williams might be 
jealous of Mrs. Carey, and Bishop Carey and Dr. Dan might not 
always see eye to eye in race matters. Still Dr. Dan was always 
the family physician as well as neighbor and the Carey children 
loved him. 

Dr. Dan never totally escaped from obstetrical work. He ad- 
ministered "twilight sleep" to Mrs. Richard Rainey and asked 
her to name the baby Daniel. He laughed at the frilly bassinet. 
"I was put in a cracker box," he said, "and I got along all right." 
Dan Rainey, when he was grown and married, still carried the 
newspaper clipping about Dr. Dan and his twilight sleep birth 
and still worshiped the great man for whom he was named. "But 
you wouldn't know he was great," Dan Rainey said, "he was 
so simple and he had simple offices with old-fashioned furniture." 

Dr. Dan never grew so great but that his patients felt free to 
come to him about all sorts of things. One woman consulted him 
about her first-aid lessons and he suggested she get a sheep's heart 
at the stockyards to help her understand things. Another woman 
telephoned and said "Dr. Dan, there's no money in it for you, but 
I want you to come and tell my neighbor how to care for her 
ailing daughter." The next day he went and saw the neighbor; 

216 Daniel Hale Williams 

he stayed an hour and told the family to move to the country and 
how to diet the daughter to build her up. His instructions were 
followed and the girl got well 

There never was a squarer man, people said. He would not 
doctor a man if he did not need it and he tempered his fees to 
a person's pocket. "I can't charge my people much," he told a 
friend. Even at his prime, after he was nationally famous, his 
income was only $10,000 a year and he still lived in a modest 
frame house on a side street. 

When a case was hopeless and there was nothing he could do, 
Dr. Dan stayed on anyway through hours of waiting, helping a 
wife keep watch until her man's last, struggling breath was drawn. 
A woman never forgot that. 

It was as though in the sickroom, and only in the sickroom, 
could Dr. Dan be a whole man, a man of feeling as well as a 
man of science and intellect. Here emotions, buried deep by pride 
and circumstance, were set free. Here he need put up no guard 
and could pour out sympathy and affection as well as knowledge 
and skill, without fear of rebuff or betrayal. In return his patients 
gave him a devotion that amounted to adulation and brought to 
him the recital of all sorts of troubles beyond the medical. 

In the early 1900*5 more than one colored youth, reading of his 
race's great doctor, was stirred to follow in his steps. Some could 
not be satisfied until they came to Chicago to study, where he 
was. They came from far and near, Ulysses Grant Dailey from 
Texas, Reginald Smith from Florida, and they came despite pov- 
erty and every drawback. They searched him out, at first on the 
street, later drawn to his office as by an irresistible magnet, swal- 
lowing their timidity, to seek his encouragement and advice. 
Dr. Dan was never too busy to see them. 

Each one he received with grave courtesy and to each he gave 
his fullest attention. Sometimes a stripling with preconceived 
ideas of how great men look and act was a little disappointed when 
he met his hero face to face. Dr. Dan's slight build, quiet ways 
and modest, almost diffident, demeanor were not what had been 


Though he had little time to mingle socially with the medical 
students, Dr. Dan saw to it that they enjoyed at least one party 
in his home every winter. For several years Arthur J. Booker from 
El Paso was commissioned by Dr. Dan to invite thirty to forty 
medical students for a big feed and evening of hilarity in his home, 
but Dr. Dan himself was often called away. 

To young doctors starting up in practice, Dr. Dan was more 
than generous. He invited them to call upon him for advice and 
he gave them consultation service without fee. It was the day 
when the woman physician had everyone against her, but he en- 
couraged both sexes alike. It was a big help to Dr. Marie Fellowes 
when Dr. Dan got her a job in a life insurance company as exam- 
ining physician for woman applicants. 

He urged the young practitioners to read up on their cases, 
just as a lawyer did, and to know all about the problems they 
tackled. A. Wilberforce Williams was one who followed his ad- 
vice to such good effect that he became a specialist in the treat- 
ment of tuberculosis, worked with the Chicago Health Commis- 
sioner, and was sent to Europe to lecture to colored American 
soldiers. Andrew McKisSick, another bright student, also prof- 
ited by Dr. Dan's teaching and became a notable surgeon in 

At meetings of the National Medical Association where Dr. 
Dan went almost yearly to operate and read papers, he kept 
his eye open for promising young men. When he found them, 
he encouraged them and advised them as to their individual prog- 
ress; he invited them to Chicago, sometimes to stay in his own 
home, and opened doors for them so they might visit the important 
hospitals and surgeons of that important medical center. 

The late Dr. John A. Kenney, for years resident physician at 
Tuskegee and donor of a $93,000 hospital to the people of 
Newark, New Jersey, was one of Dr. Dan's finds. In 1903 Dr. 
Dan tried Kenney out as his anesthetist and after that used him 
each year at his Meharry clinics. His encouragement and instruc- 
tion impelled Kenney to go back to Alabama and emulate his 
mentor. Like Dr. Dan, Kenney improvised operating quarters 

2 1 8 Daniel Hale Williams 

in a small room with wooden floor and whitewashed ceiling. Like 
Dr. Dan, he scrubbed and sprayed before he operated. Like Dr. 
Dan, he met emergencies bravely. Kenney operated in Negro 
cabins by oil lamp, tallow candle, and once even did a forceps 
delivery with one old midwife for assistant, by the light of a pine 
torch on the open hearth. 

In 1907 Dr. Dan invited Kenney to Chicago. Kenney spent 
three weeks as his guest, and, thanks to Dr. Dan, visited eight 
hospitals, heard many lectures, met leading surgeons and witnessed 
nearly a hundred operations. It was an experience of unbelievable 
good fortune to the young Southern Negro. When George Hall 
inserted an item in the newspaper stating Kenney was his house 
guest Kenney wanted to make it clear to everyone that Dr. Dan, 
and no one else, was his benefactor. When he reached home he 
published a lengthy article of appreciation in the Tuskegee paper, 
The Student, recounting Dr. Dan's good offices and eulogizing his 

He was proud of the fact, Kenney said, that the race had such 
an eminent physician and surgeon as Dr. Dan. There were prom- 
inent 'white men in medicine and surgery in Chicago who had been 
his pupils and others who had been his internes. "He is at perfect 
ease with the best surgeons in the city," wrote the segregated 
Southern Negro, "they all recognize him and accord him a high 

Kenney exulted that Dr. Dan had the privilege of operating at 
St. Luke's. He had watched Dr. Dan perform two abdominal 
operations there one morning. "The nurses and internes, all white, 
paid him the same deference that I later saw them giving the white 
surgeons in the same operating room." There was absolutely no 
difference. It made Kenney feel glad, he said, to see it and to feel 
that here, at least, was a place where merit was being recognized 
for merit's own sake. 

Dr. Dan's student ways and his study well stocked with medical 
works impressed young Kenney. "He follows closely the best 
authors on medical and surgical subjects," Kenney wrote. Dr. 
Dan's books were not on the shelves just for ornament. Kenney 


looked Into them and found them interlined and appended with 
the penciled notes of the reader. 

Dr. Dan did not, however, take another assistant into his own 
office for some years after his unhappy experience with Curtis 
and Warfield. Some had asked for the privilege and had been 
refused. Their complaints swelled the murmurs that he was selfish 
and carried weight with those who had no comprehension of what 
a great surgeon's requirements might be. It was not until 1908 
that Dr. Dan ventured upon the uncertainties of a close profes- 
sional relationship. 

On a raw day late in February when it seemed the lake wind 
was everyone's foe, Dr. Dan encountered young Grant Dailey 
near 33rd and State Streets. The late Dr. Dailey remembered 
almost a half century afterward every detail of that meeting. He 
had recently won his M.D. at Northwestern with a record high 
enough to be teaching anatomy there as Dr. Dan had done. Al- 
ready he had assisted Dr. Dan in operations at Provident Hospital. 

The men greeted each other. "How are you getting on?" Dr. 
Dan asked. "Well enough," answered the younger man and ex- 
plained that he was now located nearby in rooms with another 
doctor and a dentist. 

"Oh," said Dr. Dan, "why have you left Hall?" 

Dailey had had office space with George Hall during the past 
year and a half since graduation. He explained to Dr. Dan that 
Hall had once promised Spencer Dickerson an assistantship if he 
came out to Chicago. Dickerson had come on from Massachusetts 
and Dailey had had to find another berth. Dr. Dan stood silent 
a moment, turning his penetrating look on the young face before 

"So you're no longer working at all with Hall? Your disattach- 
ment has been orderly, then, and complete?" 

"Yes, sir," replied the puzzled Dailey. Another moment of 
silence ensued and then Dr. Dan spoke, slowly. 

"Well," he said, "it's some years since I've had an apprentice 
with me. I thought I wouldn't again, but how would you like 
to come in with me and act as my surgical assistant at Provident?" 

220 Daniel Hale Williams 

If he had been offered a heap of jewels on a golden platter, 
Dailey would not have been more astounded. Since that day years 
before when a Negro newspaper had fallen into his hands on the 
Texas frontier with a photograph of Daniel Hale Williams in 
it, Grant Dailey had vowed to be a surgeon. By hard, often menial, 
work and exacting self-denial he had won his education. But his 
wildest dreams had not included such a moment as this. To work 
at close hand with his idol, to see all his techniques and to learn 
them! Somehow he gasped his acceptance. 

Later Dailey realized that his news had been no surprise to Dr. 
Dan. This proposition had certainly been duly weighed before 
Dr. Dan broached it. 

A few weeks later Dailey brought his few possessions and moved 
into the front room of Dr. Dan's suite at 3129 Indiana Avenue; 
Dr. Dan had moved to the new address a few years back. 

The two men shared a small waiting room. There was no 
office girl or office attendant of any kind. Dr. Dan was opposed, 
Dailey found, to office attendants. He felt his patients would be 
discussed and he knew how sensitive some of his women patients 
were to privacy. Negrodom was a circumscribed community and 
many colored women in those days preferred to consult white 
physicians rather than risk gossip about their affairs. Dr. Dan re- 
spected their feelings and ran an office that, in comparison with 
those of other practitioners, was severely sanctumlike. 

Dailey was inexperienced, but Dr. Dan was infinitely patient. 
He was also fussy, Dailey found, about many little things clean- 
liness, neatness and order, and especially about never accepting 
even the smallest thing, a pencil or a nickel to make change, from 
anyone. His honesty, or independence, whichever it was, was 
trying at times. But Dailey did not know how Warfield had 
accused Dr. Dan of thievery ten years back. Apparently ever 
since, Dr. Dan had been on the watch lest some careless action 
be used by someone with evil intent. 

Dailey gave the anesthetics in home cases, of which Dr. Dan 
still had many, assisted at the hospital operations, and gave the 
aftercare on obstetrical cases. Like Dr. Dan himself years before 


in Dr. Palmer's office, Dailey was ever alert to learn. Dr. Dan's 
surgical judgment and bedside diagnostic skill continually amazed 
the younger man. "It was uncanny," he said. 

Dr. Dan was getting to the age, the middle fifties, when many 
men lose their enthusiasms. But fortunately for Grant Dailey, Dr. 
Dan was as buoyant and keen in his interests as ever. Whenever 
the opportunity arose to do an anatomic review on a cadaver, 
Dr. Dan's whole being vibrated with joy. 

One day as the two men walked up Dearborn from Provident 
after an operation for hernia through the groin, Dailey brought 
up some questions regarding the surgical anatomy of the lesion. 
He had seen E. Wyllys Andrews demonstrate his overlapping 
method of repairing a hernia in the classes at Northwestern, but 
from the amphitheater benches, Dailey said, the view had been 
too poor to get a clear conception of the process. 

"Your answers," replied Dr. Dan, "can only be found in the 
dissecting room." 

Arrived at his office, Dr. Dan went straight to the telephone and 
made arrangements. The two men, dropping everything else, has- 
tened off to the anatomical laboratory. "Wyllys Andrews was my 
classmate," said Dr. Dan on the way, "and his father was my pro- 
fessor of surgery." 

For the next three hours the two were alone in the laboratory. 
Carefully, patiently, Dr. Dan went through the entire operation 
and would not stop until Dailey thoroughly understood every 

Another day Dailey asked about the techniques for providing 
a substitute passage from the stomach to the intestines when the 
normal route was damaged. The same thing happened. Dr. Dan 
took Dailey to the dissecting room. Dailey never forgot that opera- 
tive surgery must be built upon sound anatomical foundations and 
even after he had reached surgical eminence himself and had 
carried his skills beyond the United States to India, to Pakistan, 
and to Africa, Dailey looked back with awe upon the uncanny 
accuracy of Dr. Dan's knowledge of the human body and the 
perfection of his surgical technique. For his part, Dr. Dan never 

222 Daniel Hale Williams 

stinted with his knowledge nor spared himself in teaching Dailey, 
for this time, he knew, he had found the right man to train. 

Not every genius is able to train other men. Dr. Dan's contem- 
porary, the brilliant Murphy, according to his biographer, wore 
out his assistants, but did not make great surgeons out of them. 
Fortunately for posterity, Dr. Dan could, and did. 

Dailey proved to be as eager for knowledge and as painstaking 
in his labors as Dr. Dan himself. He would go on to make his 
own individual contribution to this great work for the race, for 

Dailey did more. His quiet ways and high standards were hap- 
pily congenial to the great surgeon at his zenith. Dailey must have 
accomplished something toward healing the wounds inflicted by 
Curtis and Warn* eld. 


Alice Tries to Be a Good Wife 

WHILE Dr. Dan was operating, training Dailey, traveling and 
lecturing in the South, his wife was active in colored society. Dr. 
Dan's friends became her friends. With Florence Bentley, Charles 
Bentley's new wife, she joined a white literary club downtown. 
She devoted herself to the South Side colored people, helping am- 
bitious young women secure suitable positions, making talks here 
and there. 

When the Reverend Reverdy Ransom asked her to take charge 
of the kindergarten work at the Institutional Church and Social 
Settlement two blocks from Provident Hospital, Alice responded 
willingly. First she must raise funds. She decided to put on a good 
lecture course and accomplish two ends in one intellectual 
stimulation for the neighborhood and money for the kindergarten. 
She tried to get Booker Washington to open the course but, 
failing that, secured Mary Church Terrell, the distinguished col- 
ored suffragette and now one of the first two women on the Board 
of Education in Washington, D. C. Mrs. Terrell proved an ex- 
cellent choice. She was followed by other good lecturers Dr. 
Gunsaulus and Rabbi Hirsch who had helped Provident Hospital, 
Professor Shailer Matthews, Dr. Carlos Montezuma. Thanks to 
Alice's efforts enough money was raised to make it possible 
to increase the number of children cared for from sixty-five to 
eighty-two, and to pay the kindergarten principal a salary. Five 

224 Daniel Hale Williams 

girls were accepted as students in training for kindergarten work. 
So well did the whole scheme work out that the next fall a kinder- 
garten school "equal to the best" was opened. Alice Williams 
could be well satisfied. 

Hard as she worked for the kindergarten, she found time for 
other activities as well at the Institutional Church and Settlement. 
She helped raise funds for the day nursery which cared for sev- 
enty-five babies a week while their mothers were out working, 
and she served on the committee for the kitchen garden. Both Dr. 
Dan and Alice had a special interest in the Reverend Mr. Ransom's 
venture, the first attempt by Negroes anywhere in the country 
to do social settlement work. Twenty years before, Reverdy Ran- 
som had been minister of a church in Hollidaysburg, where Dr. 
Dan was born and spent his early childhood. Dr. Dan was doubly 
glad to support the Reverend Mr. Ransom. 

The Institutional Church did not bother about denominational 
lines. That pleased Dr. Dan. This was a kind of religion, practical 
religion, he could subscribe to a church with a reading room 
and library, music, an employment bureau, clubs for all ages, 
classes in manual training, stenography, cooking, plain sewing and 

Dr. Dan liked the way Ransom entered fearlessly into all that 
affected the neighborhood. The Armour men struck for better 
conditions and the management retaliated by manning the trucks 
with Negroes, whereupon the strikers threw rocks at the scabs 
and knocked them from the seats. Ransom, to Dr. Dan's delight 
when he heard about it, strode into the middle of the fray and did 
some plain talking. u Our colored men," he told the strikers, "are 
not trying to take the bread out of your mouths. It's not our fault 
we aren't in organized labor!" Then Ransom invited everyone 
involved to come to his Sunday Forum and talk things out, with 
Clarence Darrow on the platform leading the discussion. 

Dr. Dan had always been optimistic that race relations would 
improve. But Darrow was pessimistic: 

"When I see how anxious the white race is to go to war over 
nothing and to shoot down men in cold blood for the benefit 


of trade, when I see the Injustice everywhere present, the rich 
people uniting and crowding the poor into inferior positions, 
I fear the dreams we have indulged in of perfect equality and 
unlimited opportunity are a long way from realization." 

Darrow said more: 

"The colored race should learn this: if the white race insults 
you on account of your inferior position, they also degrade them- 
selves when they do it. Every time a superior person invades the 
rights and liberties and dignity of an inferior person he retards 
and debases his own manhood." 

Dr. Dan attended Ransom's Sunday Forum whenever he pos- 
sibly could. He met many friends there Louis B. Anderson, soon 
to be alderman; Ed Wright, already County Commissioner; Oscar 
DePriest, who had married one of Dr. Dan's many cousins. De- 
Priest was a house painter and had not yet thought of sitting in 

A number of theatrical people attended, who were not welcome 
in most churches Dick Harrison, Burt Williams, Sam Lucas who 
wrote songs. There were many singers, too, and Mrs. Potter 
Palmer was enchanted when Ransom brought them to sing for 
her guest, Mascagni. Once a month there was a big orchestral 
concert of thirty to forty pieces. Dr. Dan was reminded of the 
days when he played bass viol in All Souls in Janesville, As he 
listened, he doubtless wished he could get up there himself and 
pull a stumpy bow once more back and forth across the deep- 
throated strings. 

In late July 1900, Dr. Dan was called back East by the death 
of his mother. At seventy-two, Sarah Price Williams was still 
lively and vital when a sudden stroke ended her life. Dr. Dan 
attended the funeral but was unable to go to Annapolis for the 
burial. A seriously ill patient demanded his attention in Chi- 

Alice told Hale (she called Dr. Dan "Hale") that with his 
mother gone he should charge his sisters rent for the house in 
Kingman Place. They were both working and should support 
themselves; he had done enough for them already. His family 

226 Daniel Hale Williams 

were always draining him, she said. 1 lie sisters replied that if they 
were to pay rent they would pay it for something that suited 
them better, and they moved to Pierce Place. 

Dr. Dan's friends felt Alice Williams had an unfortunate effect 
on him. Her exclusiveness, the standards she set, cut him off from 
people, one after another he who had been so close to many, 
who had a passion for friendship, and who required a great deal 
of affection. They felt she encouraged him to harbor grievances 
and to resent slights. She was forever defending him where no 
defense was called for, and would point out flaws where he had 
seen none. If a student wrote him to say, "Thanks to your tute- 
lage I was able to do that operation and go home and relax with 
a novel," Alice was sure to remark that novel-reading was shal- 
low and Dr. Dan would forget the gratitude his student had 

When young Dr. J. W. McDowell, once Dr. Dan's student at 
Howard University, moved to Chicago and came rushing to see 
his former teacher, he was met at the door by a Swedish maid, 
replete with uniform and card tray. McDowell was upset. He 
had no card, but he was eager to see Dr. Dan. He brushed by the 
maid and went right in. Alice welcomed him pleasantly enough, 
but McDowell was added to the group who were shaking their 
heads and saying, "She's not the wife for a doctor." 

Certainly Alice Williams tried to be a good wife to Dr. Dan. 
She entertained constantly. In the summer of 1904 when the Re- 
publicans assembled in Chicago to nominate Theodore Roose- 
velt, many prominent colored Republicans from all over the coun- 
try attended the convention. Many were friends of Dr. Dan 
and of his wife, and they took this opportunity to entertain them. 
They gave a party in their home to honor the Honorable Judson 
W. Lyons, Register of the Treasury, and James Carroll Napier, 
the Nashville banker. Mrs. Napier was the former Nettie Langston 
who had taught at Mott School with Alice Johnson. She helped 
her hostess receive, and the society reporter, already bedazzled 
by the new electric lights, went into ecstasies over two such beau- 
tiful women, so handsomely gowned and gracious in deportment. 


To say that the scene was one of splendor, yet simple and 
elegant, is but to put it mildly. The gentlemen were all in 
full dress. Burnished silver, fine china, and cut glass glistened 
in the soft flood of electric light like a sparkling array of 
huge gems. But why attempt to polish the lily or burnish 
the rose? The affair was all it possibly could have been. 

Alice Williams was a society reporter's dream come true. The 
newswriters followed her social calendar with meticulous atten- 
tion, describing her parties and her costumes in every detail, un- 
til no superlatives were left and comparisons ran out. "She ap- 
peared never to better advantage," the reporter would sigh, and 
her readers presumably sighed with the reporter, "a very beauti- 
ful and graceful lady in a lovely creation of white crepe meteor 
and taupe and pink, trimmed in real lace.' 1 Whether entertaining 
sixty-five of her husband's prominent friends or a dozen of her 
own intimates at luncheon, simple elegance and correctness were 
always the keynote Alice Williams sounded. 

The Forest Avenue neighborhood deteriorated, and first the 
Careys left, then Dr. Dan and Alice. By the fall of 1905, they 
were living at 270 East 42 nd Street and a year later they moved 
to 470 on the same street. This was largely a white neighborhood. 
Some Southern white people on the adjoining property put up 
a twelve-foot "hate" fence. People flocked to see the monstrosity 
which shut off the daylight from the Williams's windows. Dr. 
Dan had to seek an injunction and the judge ordered the fence 
down. Times were changing in Chicago. 

In these years, the name of Alice Williams's father was fre- 
quently in the news. In 1903 Moses Ezekiel presented his school, 
Virginia Military Institute, with the sculptured group "Virginia 
Mourning Her Dead." In 1907 his heroic bronze of Homer went 
to the University of Virginia, and Thomas Nelson Page spoke 
on the occasion. The next year he was executing his Napoleon 
for President Theodore Roosevelt's sister. All this was never 
spoken of outside the Williams household. Alice kept his framed 
photograph hidden in a drawer, but once was moved to show 
it to her friend Christine Shoecraft Smith. Tongues wagged in 

228 Daniel Hale Williams 

Chicago, as previously in Washington, and the- malicious said, 
"She does not even know who her father was." 

Alice tried hard to be as friendly with people as her husband 
was. Every season she gave a luncheon for a club of the younger 
girls; but they did not enjoy it very much, nor did she. People 
stood in awe of her and she could not reassure them, for she did 
not know how to unbend. When she was growing up some people 
had drawn lines against her mother, against herself, and it had 
become her defense to draw lines of her own lines of manners, 
decorum, good breeding. She herself was ill at ease; she had been 
a recluse too many years, had grown didactic through too much 
schoolteaching. She was always formal according to code, never 

Unfortunately for one of Alice's inflexibility, times were 
changing and she could not change with them. She was forever 
cutting from her list someone who could not cling, as she clung, 
to the Victorian pattern by which she had been reared. 

One day as she was about to enter Jennie Avendorph's parlor 
for a meeting of the Ladies' Whist Club, she saw triumphantly 
seated in that exclusive circle the breezy Mrs. George Hall, who 
had come uninvited. The other women, taken aback by her 
boldness, sat uncomfortable but unresisting. Alice Williams, how- 
ever, caught a glimpse of the intruder's towering red coiffure 
from the hall and turned on her heel and left, never to return. 

To be steadfast to her early principles was part of her loyalty 
to her mother. From her women friends she tried to get that 
same absorbing, all-enveloping affection that Isabella Johnson had 
given her. She adored Mary Lizzie Tibbs, wife of her husband's 
protege, Wilberforce Williams, and was jealous because Mary 
Lizzie had other friends besides herself. 

For some reason she was also jealous of Mrs. Carey. Her feeling 
made for difficulties in Dr. Dan's circle of friends. When Mrs. 
Jerry Stewart, wife of one of his earliest associates on the Provi- 
dent board, gave a luncheon and invited Mrs. Carey, she could 
not invite Alice Williams. 

Alice Williams knew more about books than she did about 


life. "Fd rather stay home and read a good book," she wrote 
Caddie Parke, "than mingle with ill-bred people." 

One hot day Mary Lizzie gave a party, a boat trip to Benton 
Harbor, and Alice consented to go. She sat by the rail, tapping 
kid-gloved fingers on the polished wood, as she discussed religion 
with Louise Mingo, the elocutionist. Mrs. Mingo found Alice's 
ideas a little startling. She could not believe in God, Alice said, 
certainly not in a God who was good or omnipotent. She had 
had a wonderful mother, who had worked hard to bring her up. 
Yet just when she had married and could do things for her, her 
mother had died. "How can God be good?" Alice asked Mrs. 

Retaining her child's outlook on life, with her immature emo- 
tions, her feeling that God like her father, perhaps had been 
unjust, Alice Williams could not care for anyone in an adult 
fashion. She demanded, but she could not give, love. Her dilemma 
was Dr. Dan's dilemma too, for Alice had married a man who 
required a large measure of love, who found himself frequently 
insecure without the reassurance that approbation gave him. It 
was not surprising then that Dr. Dan, who had sought and won 
affection from a number of women before he met her, in time 
was seeking emotional fulfillment elsewhere than with the un- 
moved, and, for all her beauty, unmoving woman he had married. 

A Frenchwoman came to his office one day as a patient. She 
was not so much beautiful as she was engaging. She came back 
for further consultations and it was not long before it was ap- 
parent these calls could not be purely for medical advice. Then 
she stopped coming altogether, but coincidentally Dr. Dan's med- 
ical calls to the North Side seemed both more frequent and more 

Dr. Dan was discreet, he planned that no one should ever know, 
for he had no desire to hurt Alice's sense of dignity and right 
decorum. He probably knew that nothing more deep in her 
would be touched, even if she found him out, for he knew now 
that nothing deep in her ever had been touched. He had made a 
promise to her mother and he intended to keep that promise. He 

23 Daniel Hale Williams 

would always take care of Alice. But someone must care for him. 
He poured himself out constantly to his many patients. Somehow 
he must be replenished, even if it were an unworthy sort of re- 
plenishment, not the fulfilment he had once dreamed of, caught 
sight of for a moment, and had snatched from him. 

The affair went on for some years. Alice might never have 
heard of it had not the janitor in the Frenchwoman's apartment 
building on the far North Side been both colored and a medical 
student. He talked. 

When Alice heard of Dr. Dan's defection she fled to Washing- 
tor^to give herself time to think. She tried to get up the courage 
to talk things over with her old friend Mary Robinson Meri- 

"Mary," she began hesitatingly, "I have something to tell you." 

Mary saved her the embarrassment of going further. "I know, 
Alice," she said. 

"What shall I do?" Alice asked. 

In the end, Alice decided to do nothing. She returned to Chi- 
cago; and Dr. Dan, in the immemorial fashion of erring husbands, 
welcomed her with a Woods electric coupe of midnight blue. Al- 
ice was nervous about running the autocar with its unpredictable 
steering device. Finally she ran it up on a sidewalk, knocked down 
a fence, and would have overturned it if someone had not reached 
in and cut the switch. The coupe was finally sold. But it had been 
a magnificent gift and many said, "How good he is to her," and 
the undiscerning continued to remark, "What a perfect couple 
they make." 

After that Alice Williams went frequently on long visits to her 
friends, several times to Christine Shoecraft Smith in Detroit. 
Coming home from one such visit, she walked into a surprise 
party of all her close friends. Dr. Dan had asked Mary Lizzie to 
invite them and had sent in a caterer to do the supper. "Alice is 
such a good woman," he said to Mary Lizzie when he asked her 

But it was a cold home. The fire had died out of it. 


Break with Booker T. Washington 

IN the half dozen years immediately following Dr. Dan's return 
to Chicago, Booker Washington reached the height of his power. 
In those years, too, severe critics arose to confront him, younger 
Negroes better schooled than he, men who felt the Tuskegee prin- 
cipal was overemphasizing industrial training and thereby stifling 
the cultural education of a potential Negro leadership the Tal- 
ented Tenth, they called it. They were all vocal and their views 
were circulated in several Negro journals. In Boston, Monroe 
Trotter, Harvard '95, and George Forbes, Amherst '95, published 
the bitterly satirical Guardian. In New York City, the able 
T. Thomas Fortune edited the more restrained weekly, The Age. 
In the South, J. Max Barber managed The Voice, a flourishing 
monthly. From the scholarly pens of W. E. B. DuBois and Charles 
Waddell Chesnutt came essays and novels that were winning na- 
tional attention from both colored and white. 

Disturbed by growing disfranchisement, these men felt Booker 
Washington should push harder for their political rights. When 
he in his own person became political referee for the whole race 
during the Theodore Roosevelt administration, they were out- 
raged. They felt he bowed too easily to the spread of Jim Crow- 
ism, that he even put the chief blame for the situation upon the 
black man. They wanted to organize in defense of their civil 
rights, to fight back, and they bitterly resented what they claimed 

232 Daniel Hale Williams 

was Booker Washington's muffling of all ideas but his own. They 
felt they saw more clearly than he did what the acceptance of 
white money by Tuskegee did in this respect. Barber published a 
cartoon in The Voice showing Washington with a padlock on his 

In the winter of 1907, young Barber was in Chicago, stopping 
with the Bentleys. One night Alice and Dr. Dan invited the Bent- 
leys to bring Barber and come help eat the last of Dr. Dan's prai- 
rie chickens frozen away from his autumn hunting. 

Dr. Dan received the fiery youth with quiet but warm cordial- 
ity. Inevitably the conversation turned upon race interests. Dr. 
Dan let Bentley and young Barber do most of the talking while, 
with his usual deep reserve, he measured and weighed. Barber re- 
calls his dignity, his refusal to be argumentative or quarrelsome. 
"He must have thought me sophomoric indeed," Barber says in 
retrospect. But Dr. Dan had given Booker Washington his inter- 
est, his effort and his belief over the years and he was not in- 
clined to change now despite the best reasoning of the other two. 
Bentley grew exasperated. He settled his pince-nez more firmly. 

"Don't you see," he cried, "Booker Washington hasn't the ca- 
pacity to conceive a comprehensive race policy!" 

"Nor the ability to carry it out," Barber added. 

But at the end of the evening they had to go away without ei- 
ther their host's sympathy or his money. 

These divisions within the race disturbed Dr. Dan. They were 
occurring all over the country. His oldest friends on the Provi- 
dent Board were divided now. Madden had gone over with Bent- 
ley to the opposition, the so-called Niagara Movement. Wheeler, 
like himself, refused to abandon Booker Washington. Dr. Dan 
thought colored people should stick together, keep a united front; 
that had always been his feeling. There was enough for all of them 
to do without fighting each other. 

Yet almost before he knew it, Dr. Dan was drawn into the fray. 
Perhaps nothing else could have won him but his passion to save 
Freedmen's Hospital for the greatest usefulness of the colored 


During the years since Dr. Dan had come back to Chicago, the 
struggle had continued in Congress and committees whether to 
build a new municipal hospital and send Freedmen's patients to it, 
or to give Freedmen's the new plant so long overdue and main- 
tain its special character as Dr. Dan had pleaded. Controversy 
continued too because the jurisdiction of the hospital was still di- 
vided among the Department of the Interior, Howard University 
and the District of Columbia. One by one these matters were set- 
tled. An appropriation was finally made for a new Freedmen's 
Hospital of two hundred beds, on land owned by Howard 
but leased to the federal government in perpetuum at a dollar 
a year. The support of District of Columbia funds was discon- 
tinued and with it the District's partial authority over the hos- 
pital, leaving complete jurisdiction to the Department of the 

As the new building neared completion, Dr. Dan could bear 
the betrayal of Freedmen's no longer. Somehow Warfield must 
be got out and a capable man appointed who would make the 
very best of the new facilities for the benefit of the race. 

And now Dr. Dan was up against the very situation Bentley 
and Barber had complained of. The job at Freedmen's was now a 
political job, and all Negro patronage came from Booker Wash- 
ington. If S. Laing Williams wanted an appointment in the De- 
partment of Justice in Chicago, he must address himself to Tuske- 
gee, Alabama. If he got little attention at first, fortunately his 
wife guessed how to bring into play her battery of wiles, blandish- 
ments and useful journalistic articles glowing with praise for the 
Wizard of Tuskegee. Fannie Barrier Williams helped put across 
the first little Provident Hospital and she put across her husband 
with Booker Washington; the arbiter of Negro destiny wielded 
his influence and S. Laing Williams got his job. 

Dr. Dan was no fool. To get the attention of the dictator, busy 
manipulating his far-flung empire* he must somehow offer Booker 
Washington useful service. Already Dr. Dan knew to his sorrow 
how little vision Washington had when it came to Negro medi- 
cine and nursing. He could not approach the Tuskegee principal 

234 Daniel Hale Williams 

directly about Freedmen's Hospital. He must begin somewhere 
off at a tangent. 

Booker Washington was concerned about his failure to get the 
support he wanted from the Negro press. Eulogistic articles em- 
anating from his own secretary, the very able Emmett Scott, 
whom some thought the brains of the Tuskegee machine, were too 
often turned down and critical comment published instead. In 
Chicago, the Conservator was one such derelict. 

Like most colored newspapers, the Conservator had financial 
difficulties and like the rest kept alive on contributions from the 
more well-to-do citizenry. The next time Dr. Dan was approached 
it was a simple matter for him to say he was not inclined to sup- 
port a paper that was attacking Booker Washington. In short or- 
der, Dr. Dan was quietly blue-penciling everything that went 
into the Conservator and was lining up the Broadax as well. 
Booker Washington was grateful. 

Now Dr. Dan could broach the matter of Freedmen's and rest 
assured he would be listened to. He lost no time. The new hospi- 
tal off ered a prize for which many were aspiring, including a me- 
diocre white sundown doctor in the Interior Secretary's own 

Dr. Dan put the matter before Booker Washington in strong 
terms. If an inefficient man were appointed, he wrote letting his 
spelling get out of hand as always when he was deeply moved 
"it would be a calamaty to the whole aspiring race." It would turn 
the clock back years. In no other position, he said, could such 
harm be done. "It is too important to our men of science," he 
pleaded, "to be dealt out through favoritism. You are unbiased; 
only you can put the true situation to Secretary Garfield." Dr. 
Dan ended with an appeal perhaps more in keeping with his own 
character than Washington's. "I am appealing to you," he wrote, 
"for the interest of deserving men who will never know anything 
of this unselfish move on your part." 

Booker Washington replied that he would do whatever seemed 
wise to prevent the appointment of an inefficient man. But to Dr. 
Dan's horror, both Washington and Scott assumed he himself 


wanted the job, else why had he bothered? Tuskegee's mail was 
heavy every day with the letters of job seekers. They saw no real 
difference between his plea and the rest. 

Dr. Dan tried again. He wrote Scott, "I want you and the Dr. 
[Washington had been given an honorary degree and Dr. Dan 
carefully used it] to understand me. My interest is sincere, it is 
not for preferment." What he wanted, Dr. Dan said, was to en- 
sure the retention of this splendid new plant for the perfection of 
their young men and women in nursing, scientific medicine and 
surgery. They needed postgraduate work and they could get it 
no other place. "As the hospital stands now," he said, "it is sim- 
ply running itself, just existing." It could be a grand place for 
work, he urged, "a credit to us all," if only the proper person 
were named surgeon-in-chief . 

Dr. Dan wanted the brilliant, much abused Charles West ap- 
pointed to the job. Then if he himself could be placed on the 
Board of Visitors, he would work with West and between them 
they would put Freedmen's in the front rank and keep it there. 
This Board position, he explained, was a purely advisory one, no 
pay, nothing but work. He wanted Booker Washington's assist- 
ance, he said, in what he knew was a good project, one that would 
show results in the future. "Now is the time," he urged, "when 
we can do much for our young men and women who are grop- 
ing in the dark for leadership. They can do little for themselves 
without opportunity and guidance." 

So Dr. Dan pleaded with Booker Washington the case of the 
Talented Tenth the education of Negro leadership though he 
refused to join with the Niagara Movement. 

The summer went by and Booker Washington failed to see Sec- 
retary Garfield, though he assured Dr. Dan he had tried. He was 
working for an October appointment, he said, and suggested Dr. 
Dan himself go talk to the Interior Secretary. Dr. Dan replied he 
was willing to do so only if the Secretary invited him; otherwise, 
he said, his visit would just stir up the Wolves who would assume 
he was an applicant. He pointed out that Garfield's private secre- 
tary, James Parker, was a member of the Board of Visitors. If 

236 Dmiel Hale Williams 

Parker should sit in on the interview, he would repeat what was 
said to the other Visitors, all of whom were working for the ap- 
pointment of the third-rate white doctor in Garfield's office. 

Before Booker Washington could answer Dr. Dan's letter, Dr. 
Dan followed it hard with another. He had received a letter, he 
told Washington, from a friend in the Interior Department, a 
white man who kept him posted on the affairs of Freedmen's. 
This friend had written: 

"Do you know Mr. Washington very well? I am informed on 
what I regard as good authority that he is endorsing strongly a 
Chicago physician for the position of Surgeon-in-chief of Fr. 

Dr. Dan said he could not harmonize this statement with his 
present understanding, relations and confidences with Booker 
Washington. He felt the proper thing was to communicate di- 
rectly and ask if he had been misinformed. His own feeble efforts, 
he said, would come to naught without Washington's all-powerful 
assistance. That was why he had appealed to Washington to save 
all they had in sight for the general good. "So-called society, out- 
side show, sham, humbug of any kind," Dr. Dan said, "I have 
nothing to do with." 

The unnamed Chicago physician was George Hall. While Hall 
was steadily entrenching himself in Provident Hospital and creat- 
ing a flourish in colored society, he was also busy bringing him- 
self to the attention of the Tuskegee principal. Mrs. Hall helped 
him. She wrote to thank Booker Washington for a copy of his 
newest book ghostwritten, the Niagara men thought, by Scott: 

"When the Dr. returns [from his trip], he will find your de- 
lightful gift awaiting him. To say he will be pleased is putting it 
very mildly. The Dr. indulges in a sort of hero worship for the 
'Wizard of Tuskegee,' you know, a condition to which the rest 
of the family must also plead guilty. His books therefore occupy 
a unique place in our affections and the autograph renders them 
altogether priceless." 

A few glances through Tuskegee and Its People, she said, had 
increased her already great longing to see his "big wonderful 


Tuskegee." Immediately Booker Washington wrote back: "I wish 
very much you will decide to come here to spend a portion of the 
winter. I think you would enjoy it here very much." 

There was no question but that Theodocia Hall enjoyed her 
stay at Tuskegee or that George Hall enjoyed the prospect of 
closer and closer contact with the Tuskegee machine. He seized 
every occasion to let Chicago Negroes know he was a loyal 
Barber called him a "raucous" supporter of Booker Washing- 
ton. But if Hall was now asking Washington for a plum, Wash- 
ington denied it. His answer to Dr. Dan was categorical: "I not 
only have endorsed no Chicago party for this place," he said, "but 
I have not been asked to do so." 

Dr. Dan was easily convinced, especially when Washington 
kept his promise to mention Freedmen's to Garfield. At the same 
time Booker Washington mentioned Dr. Dan. "I had not finished 
telling him about you," the politician reported, "before he, him- 
self, suggested he would like to see you and wondered whether 
you would come to see him on his invitation." 

Before an appointment could be made, however, Booker Wash- 
ington's faithful secretary, Emmett Scott, who had had chronic 
appendicitis for some time and who was worn out with overwork, 
became worse. Washington was away in the North. Kenney wired 
Dr. Dan to come down and operate on Scott. Washington, in- 
formed of the situation, plied Dr. Dan with telegrams and urged 
him to give Scott his best attention. Dr. Dan dropped everything 
and went down to Tuskegee, performed the operation, and 
watched the patient for two days before returning to his work in 

That the private secretary to the principal of Tuskegee Normal 
and Industrial Institute had been ill, had been operated upon by 
Dr. Daniel H. Williams of Chicago, and was now recovering, was 
duly noted in the Tuskegee Student. As Washington's mouth- 
piece, the Student enjoyed a wide circulation all over the United 
States. It was no ordinary school newspaper. Negroes everywhere 
read it before they did their local white newspaper. It must have 
been hard enough for Hall to swallow the long "Appreciation" of 

238 Daniel Hale Williams 

Dr. Dan which Kenney had published in the Student some months 
previously. The publicity about the operation on Scott was more 
than he could stand. 

Hall had at last reached a long-coveted position on the surgical 
staff of Provident Hospital. By confining his efforts to pelvic sur- 
gery he had become a fair operator of the rough and ready sort 
in that part of the body. He had arrived where he wanted to be, 
where, so he himself put it, the money was. Not that he would 
chance too much. Several remembered how Hall had cautioned 
Austin Curtis not to risk his reputation by operating on a rich 
white patient. "Suppose he died," he had said to Curtis, "where 
would you be?" Hall, says a former associate, kept his mortality 
record low by prudently not operating unless he could see certain 
success; if a patient died through his omission to operate, Provi- 
dence could be blamed, but not George Hall. 

Hall was scarcely appointed to the surgical staff before he felt 
himself altogether on the same footing as Dr. Dan. He sought to 
emulate Dr. Dan's surgical tours by offering his own services in 
the Negro hinterland, and to offset Dr. Dan's campaign for hos- 
pitals he proposed to set up infirmaries. Such was the need, Hall 
was frequently invited, but frequently, too, he was not invited 
back. In Birmingham a local surgeon had to take the knife out of 
Hall's hand in the middle of an operation to save the patient's life. 
But in Hall's own eyes he was now an actual rival of Dr. Dan and 
as such he demanded equal rights, including equal appreciation in 
the Student. He sat down and poured out his indignation to 
Booker Washington. His six-page letter may still be read in the 
Washington files in the Library of Congress. 

Hall told Washington he still prized and appreciated his friend- 
ship above all others, but certain things had occurred, he said, that 
led him to believe his enthusiastic support might be a source of 
embarrassment to Washington and of humiliation to himself. He 
was not complaining, he assured Washington, about the leader's 
personal treatment. Nor was it in his mind to expect Washington 
to interfere with any of his teachers or subordinates on his behalf. 
"It was not that I desired so much to do an operation on Mr. 


Scott,'* Hall said, "as that I desire that through the Student he 
stop operating on me." Hall had an engaging, ready wit and he 
used it now. He also had a very tender ego. 

"My grievance," he said, "is the use the Student is put to, ex- 
ploiting a man whose professional rivalry with me is known to 
you and to every one around Tuskegee. A man who lets every- 
body know when he has just received an urgent telegram from 
Mr. Washington to come to Tuskegee. When my friends, on 
whom he has taken special pains to impress how important he is 
to you at Tuskegee, asked me about it, I said it was not true. So 
you can well imagine I was embarrassed beyond all measure when 
there appeared in the Student a column and a half of Apprecia- 
tion of this great man!" 

Hall complained he had received twenty marked copies of that 
issue from various parts of the country and many personal letters 
asking how this had happened, a number of them "I-told-you-so" 
style. Further to appreciate his chagrin, Hall asked Washington to 
remember that not long ago he himself had performed several op- 
erations at Tuskegee, lectured to the nurses and to the student 
body, and not a word of it had appeared in the Student. He had 
noticed the omission at the time, he said, but had dismissed it, 
thinking it must be the policy of the paper. But no, just let Dr. W. 
go to Tuskegee and perform one operation, grumbled Hall, and 
his name was boosted as high as printer's ink could go, including 
a quarter-page account of an old operation performed eighteen 
years ago. 

Dr. Dan's famous heart operation rankled sorely with George 
Hall, who could not hope to produce anything like it. Partisan- 
ship was another matter; he was sure his record beat Dr. Dan's. 
"When I think of my unquestioned well-known stand for Tuske- 
gee and all concerned, in Chicago and everywhere," he said, "as 
compared with one who has never opened his mouth in public to 
advocate the school or the policy of its principal, I think I have 
earned the right to seriously object to such a plain case of par- 

Hall wound up his long diatribe with a neat bit of humor. He 

240 Daniel Hale Williams 

could always get people to laugh and while they were laughing 
he often got his way. "Like the old Negro in the bear fight who," 
he said to Washington, "called upon the Lord and prayed, 'If you 
don't help me, don't help the bear,' all I ask is that whatever little 
struggles we may have here, we be left alone and if any help is 
given, let it be along the lines of consistent loyalty and work for 

Booker Washington answered in his suavest fashion, thanking 
Hall for his kind letter and assuring him that no one at Tuskegee 
had intentionally meant to offend him. Everyone felt the highest 
appreciation for his interest in the school and his valuable services 
for it. "Sometime when I am in Chicago," the principal said, can- 
nily putting nothing on paper, "I shall hope to have the privilege 
of talking to you and of telling you more in detail just how I feel 
toward you." 

Hall's letter appeared to have no effect on the close relationship 
of Dr. Dan and Booker Washington. Unknown to the public and 
even to Dr. Dan, the Tuskegee boss had managed through an in- 
termediary to buy out The Age and so had shut off Fortune's 
criticism in New York, but he still needed Dr. Dan's services in 
Chicago. Letters continued to flow between them weekly, often 
daily, if not about Freedmen's then about the newspapers. Wash- 
ington would write Dr. Dan to let the treasurer of the Conserva- 
tor have fifty dollars, letting him believe it was a contribution 
from Dr. Dan himself. Dr. Dan would send his receipt to Tuske- 
gee and Scott would reimburse him. 

In March Dr. Dan went East and saw the Secretary of the Inte- 
rior. The men talked for two hours. Dr. Dan came away happy. 
He liked Garfield. He thought him a fine manly person, "not a 
politician," and found him very understanding about the bad con- 
ditions at Freedmen's. Garfield promised to clean things up and 
asked Dr. Dan to keep in close touch with him. Booker Washing- 
ton was in the city and Dr. Dan spent an hour telling him every- 
thing, but he also took care to write Scott all the ins and outs of 
the matter. He knew as well as anyone who the real tactician was 
at Tuskegee: 


"I so much want your interest and help in this important mat- 
ter, this one grand opportunity of our time, to finally develop an 
exceptional institution. If it is lost or carelessly handled, it will put 
our doctors and nurses back 25 years." 

Later Booker Washington himself saw Garfield and wrote Dr. 
Dan that the Secretary of the Interior wanted recommendations 
for a reorganization of Freedmen's. Washington asked Dr. Dan 
to send him by return mail the names of six or eight colored doc- 
tors who in his opinion represented the very highest and best in 
Negro medicine, men as far as possible who had specialized in 
some direction. It was the Secretary's idea, he wrote, to have a 
staff of visiting lecturers in the medical school and the nurses' 
training school. "Of course," he said, "we want to include your 
name." Having disposed of Freedmen's, Washington added that 
when he saw Dr. Dan there were "other and more important mat- 
ters" he wanted to take up with him. So much of Booker Wash- 
ington's negotiations could not be committed to paper. 

Dr. Dan was elated. "It is very encouraging," he wrote, "to 
know you would take the time from your busy life for a matter 
so entirely foreign to your work and interest. This is the only 
opening in America for our men along this special line." With su- 
perlative selflessness, he thanked Washington for permitting him 
to assist in this important work. The entire race, he said, would be 
permanently advanced and benefited by the foresight of Secretary 
Garfield and by Booker Washington's wise counsel. 

Dr. Dan's list of outstanding men in Negro Medicine included 
F. A. Stewart and C. V. Roman of Nashville; John E. Hunter of 
Lexington, Kentucky; John A. Kenney of Tuskegee; Harry Mc- 
Card of Baltimore; Marcus F. Wheatland of Newport; Felix An- 
toine of Chicago; Charles I. West and John R. Francis of Wash- 
ington; and Henry M. Minton of Philadelphia. The others, he 
said, were only "surface men." 

Washington's next letter brought an ominous small cloud on 
the promising horizon. "Do you not think it a good idea," Wash- 
ington wrote, "to put Dr. Hall's name down in some department? 
Of course," he said, U I understand the conditions surrounding him, 

242 Daniel Hale Williams 

but sometimes I find it pays to overcome littleness with bigness 
and to do our whole duty regardless of how people may feel to- 
ward us. What do you think of it?" 

Booker Washington had asked Dan for a list of the "very high- 
est and best" among Negro doctors. Hall had no claim to such 
distinction. Dr. Dan might conceivably have named Austin M. 
Curtis for surgery, but he chose West. Either was head and shoul- 
ders above Hall. Washington might not have known this, but 
now he was not asking for the best man, only that his touchy sup- 
porter in Chicago be included. It put Dr. Dan on the spot, but he 
replied forthrightly, and his life philosophy was in his words: 

"In selecting the names sent you, I drew upon my knowledge of 
what each individual had actually done to merit recognition, and 
not upon newspaper notoriety. I believe the names seldom appear 
in the Negro Press, though they are powerful factors in race 
progress. They are doing something. You know I am a great ad- 
mirer of the doctrine you advocate: 'The Man Who is doing 
Something,' quietly adding something to the sum total. That is 
the man who can get my endorsement. 

"I cannot say that I consider the party you named in this class. 
There is so much that you do not know and have no way of 

"All of the Gentlemen I named are not friends of mine. Some 
of them I never saw, but I do know of their ability and honor, 
and assure you that they are men of such standing that I would 
be perfectly willing to serve with them. 

"And again, I want to impress most sincerely, Mr. Washing- 
ton, that I am in this for the love of the work and the advance- 
ment of my people, to make conditions better for them, to prepare 
them for serious life work. I am serious in everything I undertake. 
If I go into this, it is not for social prestige or outside show; it 
means to me long days of patient hard work from home." 

Dr. Dan added that he would be glad if Booker Washington 
would keep him informed of whatever action was taken, bur he 
did not feel sanguine, he said, as to the success of Garfield's idea 
of visiting lecturers. However the Secretary was a grand man, 


with a humane heart and a noble spirit, and he was willing, Dr. 
Dan said, to work hard to support his plan. 

He added that the Secretary had advanced the idea of making 
the hospital assist in supporting itself by arranging for paying pa- 
tients. "This is quite feasible," Dr. Dan said and, without referring 
to his own plea for such a plan years before, he enclosed an esti- 
mate of income that might be expected from private and semi- 
private patients and remarked that it would raise the tone of the 
hospital and attract a good class of people to it. 

The next day Dr. Dan wrote Booker Washington again. He 
said he had reread Washington's letter and thought perhaps he 
had not been frank enough in his reply. He said he did not want to 
embarrass Washington, but he was sure that to add George Hall 
would dismember the working harmony of the staff of lecturers 
in short order. "I have tried it," said Dr. Dan, "many times I have 
subserved for peace and harmony, but it never carne." In a sen- 
tence this had been the history of Provident Hospital for the past 
ten years. It had been a weary time and he could not face entering 
upon a similar situation elsewhere. "I cannot see my way clear," 
he said to Washington, "to serve in association with him. I am 
sure it would only eventuate again in cliques and factions and ac- 
complish nothing. That is what would happen by the inclusion. I 
think I know you well enough to say that I believe you want me 
to be frank." 

No more to Dr. Dan than to George Hall did Booker Washing- 
ton take a clean-cut stand. "For the present," was his answer, "let 
the whole matter concerning the party about whom I wrote pass 
out of your mind. Nothing has been said or done to obligate me 
or any one else in the matter, and there is no special reason why 
he should be taken up just now at least." He had recommended 
to Garfield, he said, that Dr. Dan be appointed a member of the 
Board of Visitors. 

Dr. Dan referred no more to Hall. He thanked Booker Wash- 
ington for his courtesy and confidence in recommending his ap- 
pointment. Probably his friend in the Interior Office had been in 
touch with him, for he added: "I am of the opinion the Secretary 

244 Daniel Hale Williams 

has some plans of his own. I rather incline to the view those Wash- 
ington City factions are working on the Sec'y to contravert your 
plans. You will know best." 

Dr. Dan was altogether right in his fears. The faculty at How- 
ard University had submitted their plan for reorganization, with 
their candidates for staff. Purvis had written his usual letter about 
his lifelong sacrifice for Howard and put up his own candidate for 
surgeon-in-chief . Warfield, taking a leaf out of Purvis's Bible, had 
stirred up his own supporters to write the Secretary urging no 
changes lest dire things result. 

James Parker, Garfield's private secretary, was in a strategic po- 
sition to influence the well-intentioned but overburdened Secre- 
tary of the Interior. He had seen Dr. Dan call on Garfield and 
remain closeted with him for two hours; he had read Booker 
Washington's letter recommending the appointment of Dr. Dan 
to the Board of Visitors, the Board on which he himself sat. When 
he prepared his memoranda for Garfield on the subject of Freed- 
men's, he inserted a paragraph where it was sure to be read: 

Dr. Williams of Chicago, who called here a few days 
ago, was formerly surgeon in chief of the hospital. Upon an 
investigation before the Board of Visitors of charges of 
alleged misconduct, where he was attended by his attorney, 
Hon. Jerry Wilson, now dead, he was unexpectedly con- 
fronted with charges that he was compelled to admit, and 
when told by his attorney that he had committed a felony, 
he was so startled and confused that he fainted and had to be 
resuscitated by the assistance of the committee. The details 
of this matter, I am advised, will be found in a report now on 
file in this Department. 

Parker felt safe in so twisting the facts. He counted on Gar- 
field's not asking to see the ten-year-old report, and Judge Wil- 
son was dead. The easiest thing for Garfield, confronted with a 
confusing situation, was to leave the matter in abeyance. He went 
off for the summer without doing more than to acknowledge re- 
ceipt of Booker Washington's suggestion, not indicating what ac- 
tion he would take. 


In August the National Medical Association was to meet in 
New York City. A few weeks before the medical meeting, Booker 
Washington wrote George Hall a letter from his summer home 
on Long Island. It showed he had made up his mind as to his real 
answer to Hall's long letter of the previous March. 


My son whom you saw at Tuskegee when you were there, 
is now in Denver, CoL, and has been there since early in 
June. He is seemingly better, but we are not quite sure as to 
his exact condition. Mrs. Washington and I are both very 
anxious that you give him a thorough examination and pre- 
scribe for him. He will be returning East about August ist. 
We have planned for him to stop in Chicago for as long a 
time as you think it necessary for him to stay in order for 
you to see him thoroughly. 

Are you coming to the National Medical Association? If 
so I wish very much that you and Mrs. Hall might make a 
visit to us at our summer home at Huntington. We are not 
far from New York and are right on the seashore, and would 
extend you both a hearty welcome here. 

No matter now to Hall if the great leader's secretary were at- 
tended by the man he aspired to rival. He was commanded to 
serve the royal family itself, even to visit with them in their sum- 
mer palace! As George Hall commuted back and forth between 
the North Shore and the medical meetings in the city, he must 
have been in top form, feeling his oats, and ready for mischief. 
Opportunity was not long in presenting itself. 

Five hundred colored doctors, pharmacists and dentists from 
twenty-nine states gathered for the tenth annual meeting of the 
National Medical Association. While the doctors met in the Plaza 
Assembly Rooms on East 29th Street, fifty-nine colored nurses, 
representative of 450 in the country at large, congregated in St. 
Mark's Methodist Episcopal Church on West 53rd Street and 
formed the National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses. 
Kenney reported on the ever-growing number of hospitals now 

246 Daniel Hale Williams 

operated by and for colored people in the United States. The har- 
vest of Dr. Dan's sowing was coming in. 

At the surgical clinic held in Lincoln Hospital, Dr. Dan per- 
formed three major operations, one on the breast and two abdom- 
inal cases. He also read a scholarly paper on "Conservative Treat- 
ment of Crushing Injuries of the Extremities," the subject which 
had long interested him. He had expended a considerable sum on 
stereoptican slides and showed forty views both drawings and 
photographs all taken from his own cases and illustrating various 
apparently incurable injuries. As he showed them he explained in 
detail how he had treated each case and successfully maintained 
"the continuity of the parts." His explanations, said a reporter, 
were couched in such simple language that the humblest person 
readily grasped his thought. Every doctor present agreed it was a 
magnificent treat. When he had finished, the entire hall full of 
men and women rose and enthusiastically clapped their thanks. 

Professionally Dr. Dan was the bright star of the conference. 
Politically it was another story. Dr. John E. Hunter, a rising 
young surgeon of Lexington, Kentucky, another who had re- 
ceived inspiration and friendly encouragement from Dr. Dan, 
placed the name of his hero in nomination for the presidency 
without consulting him. Immediately George Hall, fresh from his 
victory with Booker Washington, plunged into a campaign to 
defeat the man he hated. 

Already Hall had won adherents in the National Medical Asso- 
ciation among others like himself who were disgruntled at their 
lesser position, men whose pride had been hurt when, as in one 
instance, Dr. Dan had been forced to take the knife out of fum- 
bling hands to save a patient on the clinic table. Such men were 
only too ready to respond to Hall's sniping tactics the well- 
placed hint, the lifted eyebrow, above all the ridicule of which he 
was past master and with which he could make the most innocent 
and upright squirm. Dr. Dan with his old-fashioned loyalties and 
formalities, with his adoration of his Mistress Medicine, and all 
his underlying timidity and sensitivity, was only too easily victim- 
ized by Hall. 


At the Association meeting in 1905, Hall had dared to bring his 
fire into the operating room, a precinct that to Dr. Dan was little 
short of sacred. Dr. Dan had been lecturing to the assembly pre- 
paratory to operating upon a fibroid tumor of the uterus. It was 
apparent the case would not be simple. As he lectured, he began 
to operate. He dwelt upon the possible complications that might 
be present, especially the possibility of a tubo-ovarian abscess. He 
described the changes in technical approach and the drainage that 
such a finding would demand. As he proceeded, such an abscess 
was in fact found; in addition, the uterus was firmly fixed in the 
pelvis. It was a difficult problem. Hall was sitting in the front 

"If it's too much for you," he taunted, "why don't you come 
out and close up?" 

Dr. Dan ceased lecturing instantly. He pushed his assistant 
aside, took over and handled all the instruments himself. In a few 
minutes the tumor was lying on the table. Then he drained the 
abscess and finished the operation, all in complete silence. 

Eyewitnesses found it hard not to embellish their accounts of 
what happened. One Mississippi doctor told how he saw Dr. Dan 
pull off his gloves and gown with a curt "Thank you, gentlemen," 
stride from the room, "never to return again" to a meeting of the 
association he had helped found. 

Actually Dr. Dan did return, though it was only to bear in- 
creasing humiliation. There was not only backstair electioneering 
against him in New York, but the emboldened Hall now thun- 
dered in resounding tones from the very convention platform 
against "those who come among us only when the honors are 
being dispensed." Dr. Dan was defeated. Afterward, when Dailey 
tried to draw him into an account of the meeting, he refused to 
discuss it. Dailey thought his humiliation had much to do with his 
never publishing the valuable paper he had read. 

Dr. Dan could only regard this as another rejection of a deep 
and painful sort. He did not care to be president of the National 
Medical Association; he had had that opportunity if he had de- 
sired it. But he did not want to be voted down. 

248 Daniel Hale Williams 

In these months Dr. Dan was pressed with patients, patients 
who came halfway across the country to seek his skill, patients 
he traveled miles to serve. In September he was in North Dakota, 
in October he spent a week operating in Dallas, Texas, and fol- 
lowed it by another week holding his annual clinic at Nashville. 
Returning to Chicago, he found Lewis M. Dunton, aged white 
president of Claflin University, South Carolina, bedfast in the 
Auditorium Hotel where he had been waiting a week for Dr. 
Dan to return and care for him. 

Correspondence between Booker Washington and Dr. Dan had 
almost ceased. Dr. Dan had little opportunity for it, and Wash- 
ington needed no more help with the Chicago press, the Con- 
servator having been reorganized with his henchmen in control. 
Scott, however, kept up a flow of letters to the man he felt had 
saved his life and Dr. Dan scrawled an answer when he could be- 
tween trips. In October he wrote Scott: "Just saw Dr. W. off for 
Washington in the best of spirits. He is fully alive to the matter 
you and Mrs. Washington discussed. He sees the point and has 
observed certain things himself that are very clear to others." 

Matters had come to a pass where the potentate had to be pro- 
tected from the wiles of the flamboyant Theodocia Hall, or so 
his wife thought. Mrs. Hall had arrived at Tuskegee too many 
times with her numerous trunks and set that simple rural com- 
munity agog with the lavishness of her wardrobe and her cos- 
metics. At Huntington she doubtless outdid herself. While Booker 
Washington was an excellent politician and manipulator of peo- 
ple, fully aware of Hall's maneuvers and willing to accept them, 
or even to sympathize with them, he was apparently not so ob- 
jective about Mrs. HalFs tactics. Evidently Dr. Dan had been en- 
listed as someone who could speak to Booker Washington on so 
delicate a matter and be listened to. Every appearance of scandal 
must be kept from the great man and tongues once set wagging 
are hard to stop. 

Dr. Dan risked a good deal in approaching Washington on so 
ticklish a subject. Despite Washington's going off in apparent 
good spirits, this act may well have put the seal to the death sen- 


tence Washington had already written to their long-time rela- 

That sentence was inevitable, first, because of Hall's intractable 
demands and, second, because of Booker Washington's precarious 
position during the presidential election year. If he were to retain 
his political power, Taft must be elected. Dr. Dan was not in pol- 
itics, Hall was on the executive committee of the Hyde Park Re- 
publican Club. So Washington dropped Dr. Dan to favor Hall 
and Hall gave his effective support to the Washington-Taft cam- 
paign. When it was all over, a lieutenant in the capital city wrote 
Booker Washington: "The election of Taft is a distinct triumph 
for Tuskegee Institute." 

All this time nothing more had been said about Freedmen's Hos- 
pital. Late in November Dr. Dan asked Scott to remind Booker 
Washington of his promise to write him about a certain matter 
when he got back to Tuskegee. Scott answered that Washington 
found himself unable to recollect what the thing was. "He will be 
glad," Scott said, "if you will let him have a memorandum. The 
only thing he seems to remember is that he was to send you five 
dollars which he borrowed and which he thinks he has already 

This must have hurt Dr. Dan deeply. How could either Scott or 
Washington entertain the idea for a moment that he would ever 
refer in words or writing to the five dollars! To him it had been, 
he said, a mark of friendship, a mark of cordial relationship. What 
he wanted to hear about was how matters stood with relation to 
Freedmen's. As he had walked to the train with Mr. Washington 
in Chicago, Washington had said he would be looking over af- 
fairs in the capital city next day and when he got home would 
write Dr. Dan. "My interest," said Dan, "led me to inquire fur- 
ther knowing it must have slipped his mind." 

Booker Washington still did not answer Dr. Dan for over three 
weeks. Then he explained he had not written because, as a matter 
of fact, he had nothing to report. "I find the Secretary has made 
no move in the direction of carrying out his promises," he wrote, 
"and when a man does not keep his promises I soon get cold feet 

250 Daniel Hale Williams 

on him." He said that until the Secretary did make some move in 
the direction mentioned, he would not feel encouraged to go fur- 
ther. Dr. Dan could plainly see there was nothing further to be ex- 
pected from the dictator at Tuskegee on behalf of the national 
Negro hospital. 

Warfield retained his hold and Freedmen's, despite the new 
building, continued in mediocrity for many years, at one time 
being threatened with loss of its license from the National Asso- 
ciation of Trained Nurses. Dr. Dan had not exaggerated when he 
said the wrong man at Freedmen's would be a calamity to the en- 
tire aspiring race. 

While correspondence between Booker Washington and Dr. 
Dan, from being a weekly and often a daily matter, ceased alto- 
gether, that between Washington and the two Halls mounted 
steadily. At the same time their letters grew warmer and warmer 
in tone and finally reached a freedom and intimacy of expression 
never set to paper by the dignified Dr. and Mrs. Williams. From 
making reservations for the Washingtons when they came to Chi- 
cago, the Halls began taking the .royal couple into their own 
home. Regularly they went to Tuskegee to return the visit. 

Mrs. Hall undertook to do little shopping errands for Mr. 
Washington. Into the correspondence this entailed crept coy 
phrases understandable only to the initiated: "Met Mrs. White 
just as I left you. The luck of some people! ! !" Or when the "mag- 
netic Teddy" (Roosevelt) came to Chicago, "How can you stay 
away? Whew! Mr. Banks!!!" Or, T. J. H. wrote that she found 
Major Moton a charming visitor and had enjoyed piloting him to 
Hull House. "You see," she said, "he was so much more tractable 
than some other visitors we've had. I didn't take him to Marshall 
Field's however." 

"You will be glad to know," Washington wrote to Mrs. Hall, 
"I have settled my bill at Moff etts and you are therefore free to 
call upon them for your picture." Mrs. Hall answered by return 
mail that it was a positive relief to her to know she could look 
Moffett square in the face. "I haven't been going on Congress St. 
you know," she said, "I shall claim my picture tomorrow." There 


were gifts, too, of Southern possum and Tuskegee sweet potatoes 
sent Mrs. Hall and disappointment expressed when the Halls 
failed to make their winter visit. On the occasion of their previous 
visit so many eyebrows had been raised that Mrs. Washington had 
decided Mrs. Hall must be told she had overstayed her welcome. 
This fact was either not known to Washington, or he pretended 
not to know it. 

It was George Hall now, and not Dr. Dan, who got press no- 
tices into the Chicago papers favorable to Washington and his af- 
fairs. It was Hall who manipulated this one and that one and en- 
joyed himself thoroughly. "If you will just leave that newspaper 
reporter to me," he wrote Washington, "I think when I get 
through he will be good. He is hugging me now to save himself 
and I am sawing off his limb close to the tree." Things were quiet 
in the Windy City now, Hall assured the Tuskegee principal. 
Anyone who spoke out at all spoke for Washington. "You have 
absolutely nothing to think about," Hall told his overlord, "as far 
as the Chicago Negro is concerned." 

In January 1908 Dr. Dan was chairman by common consent of 
the three hundred men and women who worked industriously on 
the various committees for the big charity ball held in the First 
Regiment Armory for the benefit of Provident Hospital. In May 
doctors and leading professional men gave him a complimentary 
banquet at Bethel Methodist Episcopal Church to celebrate the 
twenty-fifth anniversary of his work. Colored doctors from all 
parts of the country sent tokens of their affection and esteem a 
cut-glass and silver inkstand from New York, a solid silver water 
pitcher from Philadelphia, a "nice little sum of money" from 
Texas to make the hall a "profusion of flowers." Chicago doctors 
presented a silver loving cup. In the thirty-seven names inscribed 
on it that of George Hall is conspicuous by its absence. 

Dr. Dan was still the community's hero, but Hall, emboldened 
by his success with Booker Washington and with the National 
Medical Association, now began to speak out more and more dar- 
ingly against Dr. Dan. The envious and the ne'er-do-wells re- 

252 Daniel Hale Williams 

sponded willingly enough to his insinuation that this "fair com- 
plexioned fellow doesn't quite seem to know what race he wants 
to belong to." Mrs. Hall tossed her head at the women's parties 
and declared she didn't know why they should be forced to ac- 
cept as colored everyone who said he had colored blood. "And be- 
sides," she added, "the younger men should be given their chance." 

Step by step, the Halls promoted their thesis that Dr. Dan and 
his wife were not only snobs but disloyal as well. Whispers went 
around that you never saw really dark people cross their threshold. 
And since so many of the old settlers, their long-time friends, were 
of free mixed lineage, there was a modicum of truth in this asser- 
tion that gave it plausibility. 

Where the dark-skinned George Hall could maintain an easy 
approach to all and sundry, the fair-skinned Dr. Dan was at a dis- 
advantage. In the ever-growing colored colony there were now 
many who no longer knew him by sight, who threw hostile 
glances in the street at one they assumed was alien. One day as 
Dr. Dan strode up Dearborn Avenue, the fire bell rang out and he 
spoke to an old colored woman in the friendly common vernacu- 
lar. "Where's the fire, sister?" he asked. She gave one look at his 
pale Caucasian features and drew back outraged. "I ain't no sister 
of yourn," she retorted. The South Side had been Dr. Dan's home 
for a quarter century, but it was less homelike now. 

Neither Dr. Dan nor his wife possessed the qualities demanded 
to wage the sort of warfare confronting them. Dr. Dan, ever ready 
to discuss medicine and surgery and professional articles, would 
not waste his time dallying in the Provident corridors over what 
he considered chitchat. Besides he thought a hospital, and particu- 
larly a race hospital, ought to present the highest standards of 
busy, quiet efficiency. George Hall on the other hand, says Dr. 
Max Gethner, then one of the white internes, was always ex- 
tremely sociable, ready with a smile and a story. New people 
might admire Dr. Dan for his extraordinary abilities, but admira- 
tion is not liking, and they fell only too easily under the sway of 
Hall's hearty cheerfulness. George Hall was human, people said. 

More than one hospital has been the scene of a struggle for 


power. Petty jealousy and dissension often crop up among doc- 
tors and surgeons. Perhaps something of the daring, the lif e-and- 
death aspects of the work, makes some enjoy their power and 
seek more. While George Hall was undermining Dr. Dan at Provi- 
dent, John B. Murphy and Nicholas Senn, in another part of Chi- 
cago, were carrying on an ugly feud. The chief surgeon of a 
white hospital on the North Side remarked that he was retiring 
with pleasure from the petty politics and bickering of the active 
staff to the restful status of an emeritus. At Provident all such fac- 
tors were overemphasized because it was the only hospital in Chi- 
cago where doctors of dark skin could function. Had there been 
no race barrier in the other institutions, envy and rivalry need 
not have been bottled up to explode in mortal fashion. 

While Dr. Dan, immune to restrictions by virtue of his light skin 
and his long-established eminence achieved in a more tolerant, 
less competitive day, was free to operate in other hospitals and 
was very busy doing so, the ambitious George Hall had no other 
outlet for his energy than Provident. Dr. Dan's occupations else- 
where left Hall a clear arena and he made the most of it. He was 
always on hand, at every board meeting and on all the important 
committees. The staff came to feel their jobs depended on HalFs 
favor, and he was shown every possible attention. The superin- 
tendent of nurses, Jeanette Lyon, became his devoted lieutenant. 
Her obeisance to Hall led her to express criticism, even hatred, 
of Dr. Dan at every possible episode, says Gethner. If Dr. Dan 
gave the nurses a party, she said he was promoting insubordina- 
tion. Her attitude was demoralizing to discipline among the nurses 
and internes, some of whom were only too prone anyhow to re- 
gard Dr. Dan's uncompromising standards and his severity to- 
ward laxness as needless fussiness. 

Gradually his service was impaired at every turn. The operating 
room would not be ready for him. Nurses would not be detailed 
to him. His patients were shown little discourtesies. If internes 
did not actually countermand his orders, they indifferently forgot 

Even Alf Anderson, a man now and forgetful of the times Dr. 

254 Daniel Hale Williams 

Dan had fetched and fended and protected him In Janesville, al- 
lowed himself to be turned against Dr. Dan. Almost daily Mrs. 
Hall was seen hobnobbing with Alf at his clerk's desk in the Prov- 
ident iobby and Alf did what he could to throw confusion into 
Dr. Dan's affairs. Dr. A. J. Booker remembers how he would turn 
some of Dr. Dan's patients over to other doctors or urge private 
patients to enter the free ward. 

The Halls were a perfect team for their purpose. Hall pres- 
sured any younger doctors who manifested a show of independ- 
ence by cutting them off from opportunities for advancement. At 
the same time he offered to "fix it up" for the meek who allowed 
him to dominate. Mrs. Hall dictated the social destinies of their 
wives, kept them out of clubs, off party lists, and otherwise as- 
signed them to outer limbo if their husbands misbehaved. It took 
those who had lived in Chicago a long time and who knew Dr. 
Dan in the early days not to succumb to this kind of skirmishing. 

In spite of their success with the newcomers, however, the 
Halls never penetrated into more select groups. Women nurtured 
in gentler ways shrank from the aggressively aspiring Theodocia 
Hall Scrupulous men drew back from her husband's uncertain 
ethics. The Bentleys and the Joneses never invited the Halls into 
their homes. Hall met other defeats. He was never accepted into 
the exclusive Negro fraternity, Sigma Pi Phi. Dr. Dan grew sick 
of Hall's pressures to get in. He had been a charter member of 
the Chicago Boule, but in 1909, tired of the constant drumfire 
kept up by Hall's faction, he resigned. Immediately Hall circu- 
lated the report that Dr. Dan had been kicked out. Despite every- 
thing, however, Hall failed to muster enough votes to get in. 

Dr. Dan must have found it a relief to get away from the con- 
tentious scene in Chicago. His trips to assist struggling colored 
doctors in the South and West renewed his spirit. His annual 
week at Meharry Medical College came to seem like a vacation, 
though he performed five operations a day. Dean Hubbard always 
gave what amounted to a dinner of state, with all the medical fac- 
ulty present. The F. A. Stewarts gave a dinner too. 

Sometimes Dr. Dan stopped with Dr. C. O. Hadley, and some- 


times with the James Carroll Napiers when Alice accompanied 
him. Usually, however, he stayed with the Stewarts. Little Annie 
Stewart looked forward to the annual coming of childless Dr. 
Dan. He tossed her on his shoulder and called her Mooks, a name 
of his own invention. Young Ferdinand Stewart looked upon this 
Northerner as a remarkably free person and resolved to get out of 
Jim Crow Nashville as soon as he grew up. Mrs. Stewart invari- 
ably found her stock of china increased by a few pieces of Havi- 
land or Dresden after each visit. Invariably too Dr. Dan carried 
home a bag of game, for a little shooting was always squeezed in 

In 1910 his Meharry visit was marked by the opening of a -fine 
new hospital with facilities for forty patients, later extended for 
eighty, and an amphitheater that allowed 125 students to witness 
operations. Only ten short years before, his operations were per- 
formed by lamplight in a crowded basement room. Now Meharry 
graduates flocked in from all over the South, and patients were 
brought from a half dozen states for Dr. Dan's services. Grateful 
students unveiled a life-sized portrait of Dr. Dan in the lobby of 
the new hospital. 

There was no question in Nashville as to where credit should 
be given or honor paid for a student body tripled in numbers in 
a decade. But in Chicago George Hall was now circulating the 
statement that Provident Hospital had been "kept alive" by him 
when Dr. Dan went off to seek, Hall claimed, greater honors 

Soon he was attacking Dr. Dan's weekly clinic at Provident, a 
clinic to which young Negro doctors had come across the miles, 
the one clinic in Chicago where a black man could get an inti- 
mate view, ask questions and be answered. But Hall found reasons 
why Dr. Dan's clinic was not practicable and it was eliminated. 
The best a man could do was to watch the postings and try not 
to miss such operations as Dr. Dan still performed at Provident 
despite all hampering. Dr. Dan, on his part, did what he could to 
visit the operations of the younger men and give them his quiet, 
unobtrusive advice. Dr. Gethner never forgot how Dr. Dan stood 

256 Daniel Hale Williams 

by at his first abdominal operation, asking questions, making cer- 
tain suggestions, praising his effort. This was now the only way 
the younger men could enjoy the kind of instruction that Dr. 
Dan gave so superbly. 

Dr. Dan had staunch friends who were impregnable to Hall's 
maneuvers. Their numbers did not dwindle through any change 
of heart, but death took its toll of some and the influx of newcom- 
ers gradually outweighed the others. This was true of the Provi- 
dent board of trustees. In the beginning there were colored men 
on the board who were not so susceptible to Hall as were the 
white members Negroes who had begun the institution with 
Dr. Dan, given of their funds and their time, as they knew Hall 
had not Lloyd Wheeler, James Madden, Charles Bentley, 
Charles Smiley, Jerry Stewart, Theodore W. Jones. As long as 
they were on the board, Hall's progress was slow. 

Allen Wesley should have been another. He was among the 
founders too. He was scholarly and well prepared, but Wesley 
was vacillating. "He couldn't make up his mind where to cross 
the street." Wesley grew less and less interested in surgery and 
more and more interested in his job with a fraternal order. He 
never tried to oppose Hall. As head, figurehead, of the interne 
committee, he was influenced by Hall's idea that colored internes 
were too inclined to stay on in Chicago. More and more white 
men were appointed and colored graduates had little opportunity 
for a dozen years in the institution founded to train them. Had 
Wesley been different, this story might have been different, for 
he outlasted many of the colored board members who dropped 
from the scene through death or disgust. 

Lloyd Wheeler would have helped counteract Hall, but he had 
business misfortunes and went off, a brokenhearted man, to take 
a job at Tuskegee. His loss at Provident, where for eleven years 
he had been president of the Provident Hospital Association of 
supporting members, was a great one. By 1907, aside from Wes- 
ley, there were only four others of the original fifteen on the 
board; by 1912, but two. 

So as the early founders disappeared from the scene, Hall had 


worked his way up. Dr. Dan did what he could to make the situ- 
ation tolerable. His hand may be seen in the appointment, too late, 
to the surgical staff of James F. Neff from the Mercy Hospital 
staff, and of J. Charles Hepburn of Northwestern. This was some 
support for Dr. Dan, but not enough, and Neff left at the end of 
a year and Hepburn shortly thereafter. 

In 1911 Hall strengthened his position still further by the for- 
mation of another powerful committee the committee on selec- 
tion of staff. On it were Allen Wesley and the white Judge 
Robert McMurdy. Judge McMurdy was already interested in and 
later married Jeannette Lyon, the superintendent of nurses who 
by now was telling around that Dr. Dan drank too much and 
even that he used drugs. 

Hall's campaign drew to a head in 1912. In that year he was on 
four of the six hospital committees, as well as on the board. His 
network was complete, he only awaited a test of his power. He 
found it in Dr. Dan's appointment as associate attending surgeon 
at St. Luke's Hospital. This was an unprecedented honor for the 
race, but it was bitter gall to George Hall. He chose to inter- 
pret it as an act of disloyalty to Provident. By careful preparation 
he brought the board to feel that Dr. Dan ought to bring all his 
patients rich and poor, black and white to the 65~bed Provi- 
dent Hospital. 

As early as 1900 Dr. Dan had had patients in five hospitals at 
once. Many of his colored patients as well as white ones preferred 
St. Luke's or some other hospital to Provident as it was then run. 
For a half dozen years after his return to Chicago he had been 
attending surgeon at Cook County Hospital. Those things had 
not been considered disloyal to Provident, but now this appoint- 
ment, with its honor and acclaim, the prestige it brought the race, 
was declared an act of faithlessness. 

George Webster had become the first white president of the 
board when Lloyd Wheeler left Chicago. Fifteen years before, 
Webster had regarded Dr. Dan as the cornerstone of Provident 
Hospital, kept in the closest touch with him in the capital, and 
welcomed his return with admitted relief. But soon Webster, too, 

258 Daniel Hale Williams 

succumbed to criticism of Dr. Dan. He set his clean-shaven, tight- 
lipped mouth in a hard line, stuck out his belligerent chin beard, 
and put into his support of Provident the passion and hardness of 
a zealot. This was a man who could come to believe, when prop- 
erly prodded, that Dr. Dan, child of a dark mother, son and grand- 
son of men devoted to the race, did not love his own people. Web- 
ster could believe that he, a white man, loved them better. 

Only Bentley and Madden of the old friends, if Allen Wesley 
is discounted, still sat on the board. They could not prevent 
the addressing of a letter to Dr. Dan ordering him to bring all 
his cases to Provident. From the professional point of view, it 
was absurd; from the race point of view, it was ridiculous. But 
there it was. What was Dr. Dan to do? 

In Washington he had fought valiantly for Freedmen's against 
Purvis and had won out with Howard University faculty and 
Congressional committee alike. He had faced down Warfield's 
dastardly attack and preserved his honor, only to find himself 
hounded by Hall. For fourteen years he had endured an increas- 
ingly nasty situation. He had tried to show Booker Washington 
what Hall really was, but to no effect. How could he convince 
these white men? 

The truth was, he couldn't. Grimly he wrote his resignation 
from the staff and the board of the hospital he had conceived 
twenty-one years before. He said no word in defense or explana- 
tion, but made it as brief as possible and signed his name. 

He must have felt as though he had dismembered his own body, 
destroyed forever the continuity of the parts. He felt insupport- 
ably lonely. 


The Record Made Straight 

IN August 1926, Chicago was sweltering in a heat wave, but Dr. 
Dan, propped in a wheel chair on his big screened porch in the 
north Michigan woods, his feet up and a rug over his knees, was 
comfortably cool. Old blood runs cool anyway. At seventy, he 
would not have been too hot even in Chicago, but he would not 
have been so happy. 

Every year he could hardly wait to get back to the pines and 
oaks of Idlewild, "back to the sticks," he called it, and he made a 
long six months of it when he got there. He had roamed the north 
woods in his old Ford, ferried delighted children over the lake 
in his speedboat, or, best of all, sat silent in the flat-bottomed row- 
boat and fished with Charles Chesnutt, the novelist. But now, 
facing eastward over the shimmering water at the foot of the 
slope before him and letting his gaze shift from the clump of sil- 
ver birch north of his boathouse to the big pines southward, he 
could only reflect that his fishing days were probably over. 

As dusk approached, Margaret Croker, his German house- 
keeper, widow of his friend Fred Croker, a colored doctor, could 
be seen tucking another rug about him, picking up William 
Fuller's letter from the porch floor and putting it back in his 
nerveless hand. It was a letter to bring back memories. 

Young Fuller was forever at his elbow in the old days in the 
first little Provident Hospital, watching him operate, asking ques- 

260 Daniel Hale Williams 

tions, demanding to be shown how. He was there in '93 when 
Dr. Dan operated on Cornish's heart. And then, twenty-three 
years later, Fuller repeated that operation himself and he hadn't 
forgotten a step; he followed Dr. Dan's technique almost to the 
letter. Dr. Dan may have smiled at the recollection, a twisted half 
smile, the best his paralyzed muscles could accomplish. 

Fuller was a good student. When a hundred Chicago surgeons, 
Dr. Dan the only Negro, w r ere formally installed as charter mem- 
bers of the newly founded American College of Surgeons back in 
1913, Fuller was there too. Fuller was always filled with gratitude 
for what he said Dr. Dan had taught him. His letter said so again. 
As soon as he had heard Dr. Dan had suffered a stroke he had 
written. "I thought I would drop you a line," Fuller said, "to let 
you know your friends miss you and hope to see you back in 
harness very soon." 

The bad news had come at a meeting of the credentials com- 
mittee of the American College of Surgeons, and the business of 
the meeting had been forgotten and boiled shirts and collars 
wilted in the humidity while one after another told what he knew 
of the famous Dan Williams and his ability and reputation as a 
surgeon. Coleman Buf ord Buf ord had been at the heart opera- 
tion too swore he had never seen a finer operator and Carey 
Culbertson chimed in there was no doubt about it. "When they 
got through," wrote Fuller, "I took a shot at what I knew of you 
when the rest of us were just embryo surgeons." 

Ah yes, it had been a long time, Dr. Dan could have mused, his 
gaze on the purpling twilight. "Rest, eat, sleep, laugh and be of 
good cheer," urged Fuller, "you will soon be well and back at 
work." Fuller knew how a man hated to give up. "Business is not 
very rushing anyway," Fuller assured him, "you are missing but 
little or nothing. Even if you were, they will come flocking back 
when you are here." Fuller and Buford and Culbertson. Doubtless 
they didn't make up for Curtis and Warfield and Hall, but they 
must have helped greatly. 

The fourteen years since Hall drove him out of Provident had 
been busy, fruitful years for Dr. Dan, though the harvest had rip- 


ened above a graveyard of burled hope and endeavor. His success 
at St. Luke's had been complete. His remarkable reputation had 
preceded him and he had fulfilled it in every way. The other 
staff men Samuel C Plummer, Arthur Elliott, Louis Schmidt 
found him an outstanding person, well grounded, faithful, sincere, 
a gentleman and extremely satisfactory to his patients. They ap- 
preciated his discriminating surgical judgment and gave no one 
higher standing either as a man or as a doctor. He got his white 
patients, they pointed out, on merit, not notoriety. Younger men, 
like N. C. Gilbert, one day to be chairman of the department of 
medicine of Northwestern Medical School, Dr. Dan's own alma 
mater, were happy when they caught him in the smoking room 
and could draw him into talk of cases. 

Everyone liked the way he did not fuss about his rights but 
quietly took them for granted. His poise was perfect. "You never 
saw him go off," said one. They called him by his first name and 
he called them by theirs. When Margaret E. Johnstone, director 
of the nursing school, died after years of service, Dr. Dan pre- 
sented a marble bust to the hospital in her memory. He saw to it 
that his colored patients were given private rooms if they wished 
them and he refused to have a ward named for him. "I knew it 
might lead to segregation," he told a friend. 

While white doctors stood beside Dr. Dan in St. Luke's operat- 
ing rooms and watched and questioned and learned, colored doc- 
tors at Provident, deprived of their heritage, struggled unhappily 
under the Hall regime. "You let Hall do something for you," 
said Spencer Dickerson, "and you soon wished you hadn't." Any- 
thing short of complete vassalage was unacceptable to this man of 
unabashed ambition. He brooked neither rivalry nor rebellion. 
Any show of independence was swiftly punished. He left Dicker- 
son off the staff for years, refused Carl Roberts's request for trans- 
fer from gynecology to surgery for eight years, forced Dailey to 
set up his own private sanitarium. J. W. McDowell resigned as 
staff president and took his patients to Dailey's. 

Bentley resigned from the board and Frank Billings, now a 
noted member of white medical circles, refused curtly to have 

262 Daniel Hale Williams 

anything further to do with the hospital on whose original staff 
he had been. A whole group of young colored doctors Wilber- 
force Williams, Roscoe Giles, Herbert Turner, Spencer Dicker- 
son, Carl Roberts and others lived on the hope another interra- 
cial hospital might materialize in the neighborhood. 

Provident lost 250 patients the first year after Dr. Dan left and 
almost 300 the second. It was five years before the old figure was 
approached and many more before a normal rate of increase was 
again achieved. Provident outlived Hall's machinations, and Dai- 
ley, when Hall was gone, returned to help build the institution 
again to first rank, but meanwhile the struggle was long and 
needlessly difficult. 

The legend grew that Dr. Dan came back in the dead of night 
and paced the Provident corridors. Certainly his heart never left 
there. Not infrequently during the years he had telephoned Dailey 
or Reginald Smith and asked them to drop over for a smoke, 
then half wistfully inquired how things were going. Meeting Rob- 
erts and Turner on summer vacation, he stopped and listened 
while the two men twanged guitars and sang. "I used to sing," he 
said, "tenor." Then abruptly he asked, "How are things at Provi- 

It was a bitter time all around. The South Side, once a friendly, 
neighborly place, bound in mutual interest for the race, divided 
into two warring factions. Doctors and laymen, sick and well, 
men, women and children took sides. Families split. It was civil 
war in all it ugliness. Harry Anderson stood by Dr. Dan as he had 
ever since the stripling won his heart, and so did his wife Julia, 
but Alf and Bertie too joined the hue and cry against him. Bert 
resented Dr. Dan's not taking him into his office and then later 
taking Dailey. Harry Anderson died in 1922. Dr. Dan begged to 
be allowed to erect a tombstone over the grave of the best friend, 
he said to Bert, that he had ever had, but Bert refused. Of Dr. 
Dan's Rockford cousins, now living" in Chicago, some stood for 
and some against him: Jessie Williams DePriest and her sisters 
voiced hatred of him, Mabel Williams Parrish and her brother 
Hugo loved him dearly and visited with him weekly. Howard 


Woodson, a young engineer, descendant of one of the Lewistown 
branches, came often too. This division of Dr. Dan's cousins was 
only too like the divisions that had rent the Williams clan a cen- 
tury earlier; old suspicions and resentments only inflamed the 
new dissension, and color of skin had more to do with it than any 
one cared to admit. 

Dr. Dan himself did not enter the fight. His refusal to defend 
himself was incomprehensible to some and disgusting to those of 
tougher fiber. Hall, swaggering along in his flashy clothes, was 
ever ready to back up his views with his fists in fact he put 
down his doctor's bag on more than one occasion and did so. 
This was easier for most people to understand than Dr. Dan's 
withdrawal. Dr. Annie Beatrice Schultz, graduate of the first 
nursing class and later become an M. D., could hardly bear the 
way things turned out. She adored Dr. Dan, but her make-up was 
simple, like HalPs own. Once when she had differed with Wilber- 
force Williams over a medical case, she had slapped his face. 
Now she offered to horsewhip any one who said a word against 
her hero. She could not understand Dr. Dan, but she would de- 
fend him with her life if need be. 

Dr. Dan never had had the stomach for quarreling; he had 
given up law because it seemed a matter of listening all day to 
people's quarrels. But he could not help wanting his friends to 
take up the cudgels for him, as he had hoped for so long that 
Sarah Price Williams would do ... fend off the world . . . 
love him. 

White controversialists Dr. Dan seemed to meet with vigor and 
equanimity, perhaps because he met them on an intellectual basis, 
a mature basis. But colored people were different. All his dreams 
and illusions were woven about colored people, his people, and 
when any one of them acted less than ideally, he was cut to the 
quick. He always met colored people on an emotional basis and 
here he was never altogether mature. Here he had a way often, 
one devoted friend said, of suddenly throwing himself on you, ex- 
pecting you to enter into his pain and trouble with him. 

There was always somewhere deep inside Dr. Dan, never en- 

264 Daniel Hale William 

tirely recovered, a hurt little boy. So he could not help feeling 
warmly gratified and a little triumphant too when fifty-five of his 
old friends gave a fine banquet on his birthday, a full-dress affair 
with place cards, and toasts, and exhibition dancing. Or when the 
colored doctors of Missouri presented him with a silver loving 
cup in "appreciation of his work in advancing the medical pro- 
fession in Missouri and in the nation." Or when Wilberforce Uni- 
versity, and later Howard University, gave him honorary degrees. 
Or when he was asked to speak at the graduation exercises of 
nursing classes in some of the hospitals his inspiration had helped 
to found, or at some school or other organization. 

In his sixties Dr. Dan made a good many addresses before both 
colored and white audiences. One of the best he had delivered in 
Rochester, Minnesota, before the Surgical Association of the Chi- 
cago & Northwestern Railway. Invited to speak on "The Malin- 
gerer" he attacked the subject with such mental vigor and prob- 
ing for truth as to give his audience a considerably larger view of 
the matter than they had bargained for. His old eyes might well 
gleam at the recollection. He had told them plainly that the prob- 
lem of the malingerer, linked as it was with the problem of the 
dishonest physician and the dishonest lawyer, was only one aspect 
of the whole moral problem of a selfish, materialistic age. "Those 
who toil," he said, "get too little of the benefits of their labor." If 
the power of the state were used to regulate economic condi- 
tions and raise the standard of living of humbler folk, then a wider 
diffusion of education might be expected and after that of ethics 
and religion. The way to solve malingering was to accelerate the 
evolution of a better society. Dr. Dan had come a long way from 
the simple theory with which he left college that hard work and 
thrift are all that are needed. He had lost his admiration of 
Booker T. Washington's philosophy as "best for the masses" even 
before Washington died, as he did unexpectedly in 1915. 

Washington's sudden death must have been a blow to George 
Hall. The Tuskegee dictator had commanded wide publicity in 
the Negro press, after he gained control of it, for the dictator of 
Provident. "Send me your best photograph and a sketch of your 


life," Washington had written his Chicago henchman, "put in the 
most prominent and successful operations you have performed. I 
can use this in a way to be of great service." Hall speedily com- 
plied. Within a few weeks Washington sent Hall a marked copy 
of the Baltimore Afro-American spreading forth the self-styled 
successes of the mediocre Hall; the article had appeared in thirty- 
five Negro newspapers. Within another few weeks, Washington 
requested his pay: he wanted the confidential list of colored sub- 
scribers to the recent big YMCA campaign in Chicago. 

The game went on between the two who suited each other's 
purposes and temperaments so well, until Booker Washington 
died. Hall then tried to make capital for the last time of his rela- 
tion to the big boss. The flowers were scarcely withered on 
Washington's grave before members of the Tuskegee board of 
trustees received a letter from a certain Robert White who said 
he was compiling a book to perpetuate the memory of Dr. Booker 
T. Washington. In this work he was being assisted and supported, 
he stated, by Dr. George C. Hall, "one of Dr. Washington's most 
intimate friends." "You," wrote Mr. White, "together with a 
number of the world's most prominent men and women, are 
called upon for a short reminiscence of Dr. Washington to be 
used in this work." The trustees, instead of complying, repEed that 
they were referring this request to the secretary of the board, 
Emmett Scott. Whereupon White immediately wrote Scott that 
though he had neglected so to state in his previous letter, it was 
the intention of himself and Hall to donate twenty-five per cent 
of the profits of the book to Tuskegee Institute. Scott probably 
never had greater satisfaction in his life than he did in replying 
that the board was not in a position to take official cognizance of 
the proposed publication or to say or do anything that would 
place the seal of authority or approval on the effort. Moreover it 
would not be possible for the board to accept the offer of twenty- 
five per cent of the profits. 

All suns set in time, and George Hall's proved no exception. But 
the event came too late to make much difference to Dr. Dan. 

George Hall was never able to disrupt the relationship of Scott 

266 Daniel Hale Williams 

and Kenney to Booker Washington. Washington needed both his 
secretary and his staff doctor and both stayed on at Tuskegee de- 
spite their dissatisfaction with many things. But throughout the 
years Scott and Kenney remained deeply loyal to Dr. Dan, cor- 
responding frequently and sometimes going up to Chicago for a 
visit in the Williams home. 

When Kenney's first wife lay ill and dying he sent for Dr. Dan 
and Dr. Dan rushed South, taking with him Stewart from Nash- 
ville. He operated, but to no avail. Dr. Dan was brokenhearted 
and swore never again to operate on a close friend. His attempt 
however, drew the two men, if anything, closer together than 
ever. Kenney plunged into work and brought out a compilation 
of the achievements of Negroes in medicine, and Dr. Dan has- 
tened to give him every praise. It was a fine, comprehensive job, 
he said, it would find its way into every library in the United 
States, "this pioneer collation and presentment of the work of a 
new people in an old field. It shows," he wrote, "the light and 
glory of opportunity it shows the vanguard easing on to greater 
and fuller development the men of work, serious work, patience 
and endurance going to the front, not as colored men, but as part 
of the world's best thought and work." It had inspired him, said 
Dr. Dan, and added, "I see so much in your little book to encour- 
age us all." 

When at first correspondence between Booker Washington and 
Dr. Dan had dropped off, Scott sought to make his own loyalty 
clear. "Somehow I am able," he wrote Dr. Dan, "to keep in touch 
with your movements through newspaper publications. Probably 
there is no special reason," he continued, "for my writing to you 
except to say I still have the keenest recollection of your great 
service to me several years ago." Scott assured Dr. Dan of his will- 
ingness to be of whatever aid he possibly could in any matter at 
any time that interested Dr. Dan. "I very much hope," Scott said, 
"there will be no doubt in your mind as to my eagerness to serve 
you and I hope you will not hesitate to write me when the spirit 
moves you." 

Dr. Dan, always quick to be touched by sincere expressions of 


friendship, kept in closer touch with Scott after that. He inquired 
about Scott's physical condition, never of the best, sent him in- 
structions for his diet, his exercise, and his hay fever, told him 
about the baseball games he still enjoyed. When Scott needed a 
stenographer, Dr. Dan found one for him. Scott on his side sent 
Alice Williams butter from the Tuskegee dairy and Dr. Dan 
crape myrtles, running roses, and wistaria for his garden. When 
he heard that Dr. Dan had been called to New York to attend the 
ailing Bishop Derrick, he hastened to congratulate Dr. Dan on this 
recognition, "not that you need it," said Scott, "but only because 
it makes your friends feel good that there is widespread apprecia- 
tion everywhere of the high place you hold in the profession." To 
Dr. Dan, sore from many a betrayal, Scott's words must have 
been balm. "Your letters always have the ring of sincerity and 
good will," he answered. "We prize you as a friend, one to whom 
we can cling, always dependable, and true. . . . Come to us again 
this summer for a quiet visit." 

It was not until Ocober 1917, two years after Washington's 
death, that Dr. Dan ever mentioned to Scott the rift between him- 
self and the Tuskegee leader. The United States was at war; six 
hundred colored officers were to be commissioned at Camp 
Funston near Des Moines. Emmett Scott, now in the position of 
wider usefulness that Dr. Dan had thought his due, was serving 
in an advisory capacity on behalf of Negroes to the Secretary of 
War. He asked Dr. Dan to accompany him to Funston for the 
ceremonies. They rode all day across the state of Wisconsin amid 
the solemn splendors of the dying year, across the state where 
Dr. Dan had spent his youth. James Mills had just died and Dr. 
Dan must have been in a pensive mood. Suddenly he turned to 
Scott and without warning mentioned Washington's name. 

"Why did he stop calling me up when he came to Chicago?" 
he asked. Scott told him of Hall's letters to Washington. "He just 
decided Hall could be more useful to him than you could," Scott 
said. Dr. Dan made no comment. 

That night at the dinner given to celebrate the commissioning 
of these volunteer colored officers, Dr. Dan was not a scheduled 

68 Daniel Hale Williams 

speaker, but he was called on to make some extemporaneous re- 
marks. He arose slowly, looked up at the ceiling, down at the ta- 
ble, and finally began to speak in a quiet, almost monotonous tone 
of voice, a tired voice: You are giving to your country . . . but 
they won't thank you for it such was the gist of what he said. 

The presiding officer jumped to his feet. He could not let those 
remarks pass unchallenged, he said. The next minute Scott took 
over, drawing upon all his resources of tact and suavity. "Dr. 
Williams's loyalty to his race is very great," Scott said, "that does 
not mean he is not also loyal to his country. In Chicago he has 
been putting in long hours as Medical Examiner for the Board of 
Appeals . . ." Jumpy nerves were soothed; there was no protest 
to the War Department afterward. 

The story leaked back to families and home towns. Some said 
it was an example of Dr. Dan's tactlessness. Others quoted it as 
proof of his race loyalty. Still others were glad Dr. Dan had shown 
he could speak out and only wished he had sometimes done it in 
defense of himself. 

Through changing times and passing years Dr. Dan cherished 
old friendships. He went back to Hollidaysburg to visit the sons 
of Moses Brown, his father's associate in the Equal Rights League. 
His onetime playmate and lifelong confidant, David Kennedy, 
long since married to a Williams cousin, came to visit him. He 
went on a vacation trip in Wisconsin with Hutchins Bishop's 
daughter and her husband. When his friend J. Carlos Davis was 
having some difficulty, he wrote a letter Davis folded away and 
treasured. If there was any assistance he could render, wrote Dr. 
Dan, Davis must call on him, or if Davis had any expense, let him 
know. "I feel deeply for you," wrote Dr. Dan, "always remember 
I feel very near to you and am at your command." When in 1923 
his old fishing and hunting companion of so many seasons died, 
Dr. Dan wrote Jennie Avendorph a letter she too treasured and 

"Thinking of you in these saddest hours of your life, and know- 
ing something of your ambition for your boy Julius, my heart 
goes out to you and with this I am impelled to assure you that if 


Julius rings true in his professional attainment and development, 
and if I am alive and active, it will be my pleasure to assist him in 
paving the way to success in the Practice of Medicine and Sur- 

Dr. Dan did everything he could to keep active. He continued 
his office hours long after he was able, stoutly denying that his 
diabetes made any real difference. During winter months in the 
city he went down cellar and chopped cords of wood to keep up 
his muscle tone, and summers in Idlewild he gardened vigorously. 

Idlewild was one thing Dr. Dan could thank George Hall for. 
Hall had not been satisfied with driving its founder out of Provi- 
dent Hospital. In a rage one day at some deference shown the 
name of Dr. Dan, he cried to Carl Roberts, "Curse him! I'll pun- 
ish him worse than God ever will. I'll see he's forgotten before 
he's dead!" Within a few years, while Dr. Dan was still very 
much alive, though rarely seen any more among the colored med- 
ical fraternity, a group of Southern colored doctors visited Prov- 
ident Hospital and asked, "And whatever became of the famous 
Daniel Hale Williams?" Before Roberts could answer, another of 
the visitors spoke up: "Oh, didn't you know? He died years ago." 
Carl Roberts shivered. 

Hall carried his campaign to Benton Harbor where H. O. 
Bailiff operated one of the first Negro summer resorts. The pa- 
tronage was dignified and conservative and Dr. Dan and Alice 
had enjoyed several summers there before Hall came with his 
familiar tactics to spoil the place for them. He forced Dr. Dan to 
look elsewhere for a vacation retreat. In the end Dr. Dan found 
it at Idlewild. 

Here in Lake County was a perfect site high sandy soil, good 
water, a lake for fishing and swimming, endless forests for hunt- 
ing. He and his friends, Ed Wright, Louis B. Anderson and some 
others, formed a company and developed a fine summer resort on 
the location. Many of his old patients, his nurses and internes, his 
friends who could not be budged from their faithfulness, came to 
build homes there. In the end he had peace. He saw no more of 

270 Daniel Hale Williams 

Idlewild had a big clubhouse with great stone fireplaces where 
friends and neighbors might gather on rainy days and delightful 
verandas facing the lake for fine days, a boat dock and a diving 
pier. Forums and concerts soon made Idlewild a cultural mecca. 
Dr. Dan built a summer hotel, Oakmere, which drew a good cli- 
entele from Washington, Cleveland, Chicago, St. Louis and the 
South. He fitted up a little hospital for emergencies and hung a 
fire bell in a high tower. His old organizational faculties made him 
remember every detail. 

Dr. Dan called his own home Oakmere too. He laid out a little 
park across the road. Both properties were enclosed by neat white 
picket fences, and white arches carrying the words Oakmere and 
Oakmere Park stood over the gates. He built a small hexagonal 
summer pavilion in the park, where one could sit and watch the 
sunset. Everything was left as natural as possible. Gravel walks 
wound under the trees, their edges kept neat by his own efforts. 
Early risers saw him out at dawn, down on his knees, clippers in 
his hand. He fussed endlessly over his prize tulips, his many vari- 
eties of fine roses, his burgeoning peonies, and gave them away 
right and left to the colored postmistress in Idlewild and the wife 
of the white banker in the neighboring town of Baldwin. Wher- 
ever the sun filtered through he planted flowers. He grew a 
vegetable garden too and got Dailey up on a visit to show off 
his Swiss chard. 

He located his house, a simple bungalow made luxurious with 
electricity and Oriental rugs, on a high knoll facing eastward over 
the lake and he had never tired of the site. He cut as few trees as 
possible. His bungalow, his small chickenhouse, his workshop 
where the tools were kept as precise and clean as a laboratory, his 
garage, all were nestled under the inviting shelter of whispering 
green branches. "Save your trees," he urged everyone and did a 
job of tree surgery on Ed Wright's place that proved his hand as 
clever with bough and trunk as with human leg and arm. 

But now his hands had lost their cleverness. He doubtless sighed 
there on his quiet porch watching the long evening shadows creep 
across the grass. He might recover temporarily from this stroke, 


It looked as though he would, but this was the beginning of the 
end. He was a doctor and he knew. 

Alice had already gone, and gone bravely. She had enjoyed Idle- 
wild but four years and most of that time she had spent in a wheel 
chair, victim of Parkinson's disease. Dr. Dan had called in N. C. 
Gilbert from Northwestern to care for her, but Gilbert could do 
little. Even those who had not loved Alice admired her fortitude 
and the vigor with which she kept her intellectual and artistic in- 
terests to the end, going to hear Clarence Cameron White play a 
violin recital when she was far from able. "Of course I am going," 
she said, "he was my pupil." 

As Alice lay dying someone timidly ventured to suggest a min- 
ister be sent for, "some one to pray." "A little late, don't you 
think?" the intrepid Alice remarked and turned her face to the 
wall. So at her memorial service a friend read "Crossing the Bar" 
from Alice's own marked copy of Tennyson and no pretense was 
made of getting in a clergy for whom Alice or Dr. Dan had little 

Religion had to be lived before it could mean anything to Dr. 
Dan. Jenkin Lloyd Jones, Reverdy Ransom, those were the 
preachers Dr. Dan had liked, preachers who were not so much 
concerned with the hereafter as with here and now. "All that de- 
velops the bodies and minds of men ... all that renders us more 
intellectual and more loving, nearer just . . ." Ingersoll had 
voiced Dr. Dan's creed for him there in Janesville so long ago. 

These were the things his father had worked for, and his grand- 
father, all the Williamses. And now, Dr. Dan might have thought 
in the ever-deepening twilight, he would soon be gone and there 
would no longer be a Daniel Williams to carry on the fight. This 
hurt undoubtedly was the greatest hurt he had known, not to 
have a son . . . But perhaps he remembered the children of his 

"Daughter, this woman's got to live." Perhaps his own words 
rang again in his ears, perhaps he felt again the oppressive Wash- 
ington heat, smelt the sweetish odor of chloroform that hung 
heavy in Freedmen's operating room, saw the white-capped, dark- 

272 Daniel Hale Williams 

eyed nurse standing obedient, concentrating on his words. 
"Daughter, this woman's got to live." "Yes, sir." 

What fine young women those nurses were Isabella Garnett, 
Jessie Sleet, Elizabeth Tyler, Edith Carter wonderful daugh- 
ters. Yes, to be sure, Dr. Dan could tell himself, he had daughters, 
sons too. Their faces may have passed before him Kenney, 
Perry and West, McDowell, Hale and Reed, Holman, McMillan 
and Francis, McKissick, White and Wilberforce, Roberts, Geth- 
ner and Giles, Dickerson, Kendall and Stewart, Jackson, Chislett 
and Phalen, some dark and some lighter, Buford, Fuller and 
Dailey. These were his sons, his heirs. He would never know the 
full line of his progeny, stretching down the years, passing on 
their heritage, the skills he had taught them, saving lives, easing 
pain. "The men of work" that was what he had said to Kenney 
"the men of work, serious work, patience and endurance . . ." 

When Mrs. Croker came out to wheel him into the house, prob- 
ably he looked very peaceful there asleep in the dusk, the only 
sound the gentle lap, lap of the lake at the foot of the slope. 

Dr. Dan rallied and lived five more years. He sent his medical 
books to Henry Minton in Philadelphia to start a library for 
Mercy Hospital. "It only takes a small room and some chairs and 
shelves," he wrote Minton, "but why not a pretty room, neatly 
furnished. It will add so much to your hospital." He could never 
stop dreaming and planning for Negro hospitals. He had dinner 
with Billings and after it Billings agreed to head the campaign for 
funds for a third and greater Provident Hospital. He gave Dailey 
some files and a chair. 

He made his will provision for his sisters and his brother's 
widow, his housekeeper, his secretary; he forgot no one, and 
even added $1000 for Ida Williams Lord, the sweetheart of his 
Academy days, now a widow. There was $2000 for the colored 
YWCA in Washington, a similar sum for the operating room of 
the proposed new interracial hospital on the South Side, and 
$5000 each to Meharry and Howard to assist indigent medical 
students. The largest bequest, $8000, went to the National Associ- 


ation for the Advancement of Colored People, spiritual heir of the 
Niagara Movement, and that organization was also his residuary 
legatee. In the end he had joined his old friends Bentley and Mad- 
den in their support of the DuBois program. His will provided 
plain evidence if any was needed of his loyalty and love for his 
race. It was not an immense fortune, not such as many a surgeon 
less skilled than himself had accumulated, but as he had said to 
Mrs. Rainey, "I cannot charge my people large fees." And a good 
deal he had already given away. 

But his rally of strength was short-lived. Other strokes fol- 
lowed. Those last five years were a sad time for Dr. Dan and his 
friends a time of slow death, with his mental powers going first. 

Finally on Tuesday, August 4, 1931, in his beloved Oakmere at 
Idlewild, Daniel Hale Williams died. The race's great pioneer sur- 
geon was dead. The wires flashed the news and white and colored 
newspapers noted his passing, recounted his great deeds, his serv- 
ice to both races. Nowhere was a finer tribute written than that 
published in the Lake County Star by his white neighbor and 
friend Herbert Davis. The editor gave front-page headlines to 
Dr. Dan and never once in two columns of type felt it necessary 
to mention that he had had Negro blood. 

... an invalid for nearly five years . . . His departure from 
Idlewild was attended with honors and reverence of excep- 
tional character. With the summer season at its height and 
several thousand residents and visitors at the resort, all activi- 
ties were suspended for the day and in the evening a 
memorial service was held in which all joined in paying 
tribute to the splendid character of a beloved associate. . . . 
It is remarkable that so famous a man should carry his 
honors so lightly. In 1920 he built his beautiful cottage in 
Idlewild and went there summers to rest. He did not prac- 
'tice, but he never turned a deaf ear to a call for help. One of 
our bankers owes his life to the skillful ministrations of "Dr. 
Dan," and many others found him willing and ready to 
serve without pay in the cause of humanity. Modest, retiring, 
unassuming, he found his little world here full of reverent, 

274 Daniel Hale Williams 

loving friends. To the children he was "Dr. Dan" and a 
friend, even though regarded awesomely as a miracle man. 

Like many other truly great men he found peace, solace 
and instruction in nature. He loved his flowers and his garden 
was filled with lovely native and exotic plants. He loved 
the woods and waters and the living things in them. . . . 

To have known him was a pleasure to know him inti- 
mately was a priceless privilege. He was at once an inspira- 
tion and an aid. To emulate his simplicity, his kindly spirit 
and his great modesty is to pay tribute to the truly great. 
The world has lost greatly. . . . 

The owner of a local historical museum, a white man, began to 
assemble what relics he could of the departed Negro surgeon. 

In Chicago funeral services were held for Dr. Dan in St. An- 
selm's Roman Catholic Church. His housekeeper had called Father 
Eckert to baptize him a few months before. Few of his Catholic 
friends approved, since everyone knew that Dr. Dan was now 
helpless; and those who felt such an act was necessary were sat- 
isfied that his mother, who had been converted to Catholicism 
after her husband's death, had had him baptized as a child. St. 
Anselm's was then a white church, and while hundreds of people 
packed it to overflowing not many of them were colored. 

Dr. Dan was buried in a corner of Graceland Cemetery, sepa- 
rate from his wife. No stone was erected over his grave. When 
representatives of the Negro National Hospital Association came 
some years later to put a wreath on his grave, there was nothing 
to show where he lay, and the wreath had to be carried back. In 
Provident Hospital his picture stood in a basement corridor, its 
face to the wall, covered with dust. Five years later, when the 
dream of the third and greater Provident Hospital was realized, a 
portrait of George Hall, who had died in 1930, was hung in the 
lobby. There was no memento anywhere of Daniel Hale Williams. 

But the life of a lie, Ingersoll said, is simply a question of time. 
Nothing but truth is immortal. One day James Gordon, last sur- 
vivor of the original hospital committee of 1891, entered the new 
Provident as a patient. When he saw the state of affairs, he sent 


up a protest that had considerable repercussions. A new admin- 
istration had its eyes opened. There was a scurry for souvenirs of 
Dr. Dan. A case filled with silver cups, certificates of honor and 
some of his own surgical instruments appeared in the lobby. On 
the wall was hung a portrait and under it a bronze plaque mis- 
quoting his birth date but setting the essential record straight: 

(genealogical Chart of the 


Joseph Williams ? 
b 1760? YorkCoPenn, 

(Joseph or his wife or his 
daughters -in law were 
wholly or part German) 

1 (son) 2 (son) 


3 (son) 

m Kolklazier* 


<4 Samuel 
b 1780? 
( his son grew 
ub speaking 

5 Daniel Williams 

1783 -1854? 
m Sarah 

b 1769 
(Scotch- Irish) 

1 Peter A 2 (dau) 4 (dau) 5 Thomas 3 Daniel Wilham$ t Jr 
1813-1897 blS15? b 1825? b 1827 1520-1667 

m Caroline \ married. 184-3 



1 Ann Effine 2 Henry Price 3 Sarah O 4 Ida, 5 Daniel Hale 
J846-1P33 1847-1895 1849-1915 1853-1902 WlllumtS 


m 1898 

Alice D Johnson 

Clay m(o Matilda M m(t)Blufini m William, 
WSamuel A Mature Turner Cornell 

Sarbour (Mexican) (2 ) Nhbit 

and Price Families 

NOTE, = white 

~ went white 


part Negro, Indian, white, came to Annapolis 

from Yarmouth, N 5, 
before 1790) 

l Ann Shorter 

2 (son) 

Smith Price* ? 
d 1507 
( part or wholly white) 

(2) Stevens 

(married before Jan 1819) 

3 Peter 

Wilks 6 (son) 

3 Henry Price 
m Ann Wilks 
(part white } Negro 
avid Indian } related 

to Frederick Douglass) 


1 Sarah 2 Janey 4- hint 5 Betty 


7 Smith d Jamt* 9 Thomas 
Price Price 

. i _.. . - . . . 

6 Sarah Ann Price 1 Henry H 2 (dau)** 3 (dau) 4 JoknM s Alexander 

1828-1900 1814-1862 m white man* 1820-1647 Smith 

I m MaryJant fn>m Philadelphia 1626-1872 
' Mills* ' 


6 Mice Pace 


7 Florence May d Martha, 9 Mane 

1659 -19J4 (died m infancy) ( died in infancy ) 

Notes and Sources 

Abbreviations used: BTW for Booker T. Washington Corre- 
spondence, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, Washing- 
ington, D.C. NA for National Archives, Records of the Secre- 
tary of the Interior, Washington, D.C. JNA for scrapbook of 
the late Julius N. Avendorph. NMA for the National Medical 
Association. NMA Jnl for Journal of the National Medical As- 
sociation. Publications No. 1-14 for the articles by Daniel Hale 
Williams, which are listed in detail on page 366 together with 
the journals where they appeared. 

I have mentioned in the Foreword something of my experience in 
securing the data for this book. Nothing extensive has heretofore been 
published on the life of Daniel Hale Williams one or two magazine 
articles, entries in various biographical dictionaries. Much of the data 
had to be secured from persons who had known Dr. Dan or knew his 
story. A list of those consulted is found on p. 362. 

The Williams Family 

History of the Williams family was given by the following de- 
scendants: Harriette Kennedy Brown; Elizabeth McCard Clark; Berta 
Cornell Coleman; Alice Williams Cuffee; Virginia Powell Florence; 
Chester A. Franklin; Alamanda Williams Garnet; Josephine Williams 
Garnet; Helen Williams Ramsey Gray; Charles Kelly; John W. Kelly; 
Pearl Barbour Marchant; Blanche Williams Stubbs; Florence Pretty- 
man Suydam; Ada Blanche W. Z. Williams; Hugo Williams; the late 
Raphael Dumas Williams; Sadie Fitzgerald Wilson; Howard D. 

Also by the following who are related by marriage: Henry W. 
Furniss, M.D.; the late Sumner A. Furniss, MIX; the Reverend G. 

2 So Darnel Hale Williams 

Lake Imes; Harriet Layton McFadden; the late Howard D. Scott; Mr. 
and Mrs. James Scott; Lizzie Ramsey Still; the late Gardner Thomas; 
William B. Turner. 

The genealogy of the Williams family is given on pp. 276-277. 

U. S. Census records were examined for the years 1790-1880 for all 
localities where the Williamses lived. Tax lists and deed records were 
also examined. Marriage and birth records for the earliest years do not 
exist. Old city directories were often a useful source. 

By the time York County was erected in 1749 the Williamses Jo- 
seph, Thomas and Isaac, Abraham, Samuel and Daniel were many 
among the thinly scattered population of that frontier. These names 
persist down through the generations. They are numerous in the 1790 
U. S. Census of York County and are found in the rolls of the Revo- 
lutionary War as set forth in The Pennsylvania-German in the Revo- 
lutionary War, /77y-/7#5, Part XVIII of a Narrative and Critical His- 
tory y prepared at the request of The Pennsylvania-German Society, 
published at Lancaster, Pennsylvania, 1908. Thomas Williams's oath of 
allegiance is in the hands of Dr. Francis Jamison, Wilmington, Dela- 
ware, who showed it to me. 

The early settlement of York County is described in The Beginnings 
of the German Element in York County, Abdel Ross Wentz, B.D., 
Ph.D., Part XXVI of Narrative and Critical History, published by the 
Pennsylvania-German Society, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, 1916. 

The notion that intermarriage was heinous was one to which peo- 
ple yielded slowly. Again and again the Pennsylvania Legislature re- 
fused to pass bills that would have voided mixed marriages. In the 
early nineteenth century, the tall, spare, fair-skinned Williams men 
married not only into other free mixed families of southeastern Penn- 
sylvania like themselves the Armstrongs, Underbills, Browns, the 
Scotts, Kellys and Vashons but also frequently married white wives. 
Of the offspring of Joseph Williams Grandpap Joseph, Dr. Dan's 
German-speaking great-grandfather at least two sons and three 
grandsons are known to have married white women. But, as more and 
more black refugees flocked in by underground from Virginia and 
Maryland, bringing with them the problem of cheap labor and lowered 
wages to antagonize the working classes and the burden of pauperism 
to irritate the upper classes, prejudice grew. 

Within the Williams clan the children of one set of parents might 
differ greatly from each other and among them show characteristics 
of all the racial strains that had entered their inheritance. Of eight 
children in one family, two sons were "as white as any one," one 
daughter had Indian features, hair and coloring and was tall and 
"walked very straight," while another daughter was short and plump 


and African in feature, "always laughing," and the remaining four 
children showed varying combinations of traits. In Dr. Dan's family, 
his oldest sister Annie was fair like thek father, as was young Dan; 
Sally, the next daughter, and the son Price were dark like their 
mother; Ida, Alice and Florence, the three youngest girls, were "mid- 

All that we know about Dr. Dan's Great-Grandpap Joseph is that 
he lived in Dauphin County in his old age among numerous grand- 
children and kept busy selling Bibles. He and/or his wife were doubt- 
less German-speaking since two of his grandsons are known to have 
grown up speaking German rather than English. Whether he was al- 
together white or of mixed blood we do not know. Joseph's descend- 
ants, as their opportunities and privileges grew more and more re- 
stricted (Pennsylvania disfranchised colored persons in 1838), moved 
farther and farther westward. 

Dr. Dan's grandfather, Daniel Williams, followed the Juniata River 
beyond the Tuscarora Mountains to Lewistown, the route of the state- 
wide, state-owned canal system. He was settled there with his Scotch- 
Irish wife, his three sons and two daughters, by 1830. There were 
thirty-five colored families among the 1200 inhabitants, and two Afri- 
can churches. In one of them Daniel Williams, already approaching 
fifty, preached on Sundays. On weekdays he operated a barbershop. 
He looked "mostly white" and had some Indian and some African 
characteristics. He owned property on the canal. In 1846, according to 
the tax list, he went to Haiti. The press was constantly urging free 
Negroes to leave the country and go to Liberia or Haiti. Perhaps the 
sixty-three-year-old preacher went seeking a new home either for 
himself or his flock. But he returned to end his days in Lewistown and 
last appears in the Lewistown Census for 1850. 

For the history of Lewistown, Pennsylvania, the following were 
consulted: History and Topography of Northumberland, Huntington, 
Mifflin, Centre, Union, Columbia, Juniata and Clinton Counties, Penn- 
sylvania, etc., I. D. Rupp, Lancaster, 1847; History of That Part of the 
Susquehanna and Juniata Valleys Embraced in the Counties of Miff- 
lin, Juniata, Perry, Union and Snyder, No author, Vol. I, 1886; A His- 
tory of the Juniata Valley and Its People, John W. Jordan, Vol. I, 
New York, 1913; The Pioneers of Mifflin County, Pennsylvania: 
Who's Who in the Early Records before 1790, John Martin Stroup 
and Raymond Martin Bell, Lewistown, 1942. 

Other Williams cousins lived in Lewistown. Thomas had a German 
wife and their daughter became one of the town's early schoolteachers. 

Dr. Dan's uncle, Peter A. Williams, born in 1813, was a tall dashing 
magnetic fellow, full of initiative, much admired for his commanding 

282 Daniel Hale Williams 

figure and courtly manners. He went off to New York and, after op- 
erating a barbershop for a time, rose to be chief steward for a line of 
coastwise vessels. His position was lucrative and he set up his wife in 
a fine brownstone house in Brooklyn, gave her an Irish servant girl, 
and maintained a carriage and pair. Peter gave his name to a daughter 
of his wife by a previous marriage and that daughter's sons are the two 
physicians, Surnner (recently deceased) and Henry Furniss, the latter 
for a number of years U. S. Minister to Haiti. 

Dr. Dan's father, Daniel Williams, Jr., was seven years younger 
than Peter. He too learned the barbering trade from his father and at 
seventeen undertook to buy a house and lot on the canal in Lewis- 
town that had once belonged to his father. The purchase price was 
$55, twice what he could hope to earn in a year. It proved too large a 
burden for him to carry and the property was sold at sheriff's sale. 
But he had a stubborn persistence that was to appear later in his son. 
After a few years he bought back the desirable holding and kept it 
throughout most of his life, though he early left Lewistown. For a 
while he worked in Harrisburg and there met the girl he married. 
Sarah Ann Price had come from Annapolis to visit her brother, Harry 
Price, established in good property in Harrisburg by his father, Rev- 
erend Henry Price of Annapolis. 

The Harrisburg Business Directory and Stranger's Guide, with a 
Sketch of Its First Early Settlement, H. Napey, published by the au- 
thor, 1842, lists two uncles of Dr. Dan, brothers of his mother: John M. 
Price, Cake Baker, and Henry H. Price, Barber, Hair Dresser & Wig 
Maker. There is also a relative, Jacob Smith, Barber, Hair Cutter & Vi- 
olinist. Dr. Dan's father seems to be the partner in Williams & Thomas, 
3 Third Street. 

The Free Negro 

That there was a considerable body of free Negroes in this coun- 
try, both North and South, before Emancipation is not generally 
known. The following are useful sources: Elihu S. Riley and Jeffrey 
R. Brackett, works cited below under THE PRICE FAMILY; 
Sketches of the Higher Classes of Colored Society in Philadelphia, by 
a Southerner, 1841; The Negro in Pennsylvania: Slavery, Servitude, 
Freedom, 1639-1861, Edward Raymond Turner, 1911; The Free Ne- 
gro m Maryland, 1634-1860, James M. Wright, 1921; The Free Negro 
Family E. ^Franklin Frazier, 1932; The Negro, Too, in American His- 
tory, Merl R. Eppse, 1938; Speech of Col. Curtis M. Jacobs on the 
Free Colored Population of Maryland, delivered in the House of Dele- 


gates, 17 February 1860, Printed by Elihu S. Riley, Annapolis, 1860; 
Proceedings, Eastern Shore Slave Holders' Convention, 1859; and the 
following works by Carter G. Woodson: Free Negro Heads of Fami- 
lies in the United States in 1830, together with a Brief Treatment of 
the Free Negro, Washington, 1925; A Century of Negro Migration, 
1918; The Negro in Our History, 1928; Free Negro Owners of Slaves 
in the United States in 2830, together with Absentee Ownership of 
Slaves in the United States in 1830, Washington, 1924; The Education 
of the Negro Prior to 1861, Washington, 1915. See also Notes for 

The Price Family 

The story of the Price family was given by the following descend- 
ants: Alice Thornton Butler, Pearl Barbour Marchant, Blanche Thorn- 
ton Parnall, Ada Blanche W. Z. Williams, the late Raphael Dumas 
Williams. Also by descendants of Peter Shorter, "a kin": Sarah Jen- 
nings, Anna Pounder Sorrell, and Lola Brown Whipple. Also by two 
old residents of Annapolis: Mrs. Clifton Moss and Mrs. E. H. B. Par- 
ker. The Reverend L. L. Berry of the Asbury M. E. Church stated 
that the Reverend Henry Price, Dr. Dan's grandfather, donated the 
land for the church. 

Additional sources were: The Ancient City, A History of Anne 
Arundel County in Maryland, 1649-2887, Elihu S. Riley, Annapolis, 
1887; Article 19, Part I, of a series written for The Maryland Gazette, 
Elihu S. Riley (undated clipping in the scrapbook of Mrs. E. H. B. 
Parker); The Negro in Maryland, Jeffrey R. Brackett, Baltimore, 

The Price family's wills, deeds, marriages, manumission records and 
travel papers are found in Anne Arundel County Courthouse, Mary- 
land, and the Annapolis Hall of Records. I also consulted the U. S. 
Census records for Anne Arundel County for the years 1790, 1800, 
1830, 1840, 1860. Harrisburg property records are found in Dauphin 
County, Pennsylvania, Courthouse. 

I visited the old Price home on Main Street near Church Circle and 
the Price burial lot in St. Anne's Churchyard, Annapolis. 

The genealogy of the Price and Shorter families is given on pages 

The Prices of Annapolis were, like their contemporaries and friends, 
other old free mixed families the Snorters, Browns, Butlers, Ridg- 
leys, Bishops "of a marked and elevated standing," according to an 
early white chronicler, Elihu S. Riley. "There was no need of one's 
being told," wrote Riley, "that these were capable, intelligent, and 

284 Daniel Hale Williams 

high-minded people. They carried these virtues and qualities in their 
very bearing and associations with each other and with their white 
fellow townsmen." They filled places of credit and engaged in leading 
occupations. A young free woman of color kept a small school, and 
white children attended it. They voted in the city elections, along 
with other persons who owned a lot with a house on it or had an es- 
tate of the value of 20 sterling. Those who wished worshiped in St. 
Anne's and when they died were laid to rest in an unsegregated ceme- 
tery, unless, like Smith Price, they had a private family burial ground 
on their own land. 

Dr. Dan's great-grandfather, Smith Price, may have been altogether 
white since his will does not state specifically, as does that of his son, 
that he was a "free colored citizen." His wife was of free mixed blood, 
Indian, African and Caucasian. When Smith Price died in 1807 he left 
a considerable inventory of property, farm, shop and household, with 
many amenities walnut furniture, framed pictures, tea table with 
china cups and saucers, wine decanter and glasses, stores of tea, spices, 
tobacco. The executrix of his estate, his wife, was bound in the not 
small sum of 250 for faithful performance of her sad task. During his 
lifetime he had purchased slaves in order to liberate them. The manu- 
mission records of some he "forever set free" may be seen still in the 
Annapolis Hall of Records: ". . . Zack whom I bought of William 
Glover of Annapolis for $100 . . . Rachel, 35 years old, and her 
child. . . ." Pitiful little, when you thought of the tens of thousands of 
men in slavery. But each free man did what he could, reached back 
and pulled up out of the horror a few one man set forever free, one 
woman and her child, each was a human soul in a human body. 

Dr. Dan's grandmother, Ann Wilks Price, had Indian hair; her in- 
heritance, like that of his great-grandmother, included the three racial 
mixtures. She was a slave until freed by her husband's purchase. (For 
her relationship to the famous Abolitionist, Frederick Douglass, see 
Notes for page 82.) She was an excellent cater ess and a stickler for 
cleanliness. She would not allow her sons to put up the horses lest 
their clothes become redolent of the stable. She sent a grown grand- 
daughter back upstairs to bathe properly "all over" while her beau 
cooled his heels in the parlor and horse and buggy waited at the curb. 

Dr. Dan's grandfather, Henry Price, built well on his inheritance 
and like his father exhibited the same openhandedness. He manumit- 
ted slaves, gave his mother a house and land, loaned money to relatives, 
and acted as trustee for the minor children of his friends. Despite his 
shop and real estate interests, his main concern was religion. He gave 
the land for the Asbury M. E. Church where he preached. His ser- 
mons were awaited eagerly and quoted weekly; his eloquence became 


a tradition. When the Nat Turner slave insurrection flared up in Vir- 
ginia in August 1831, and Maryland fearfully restricted movements of 
all colored, free or slave, the Reverend Henry Price went into action. 
He secured permission to hold a meeting in his church of the free 
colored of Annapolis. He sought to allay fears and suspicion on both 
sides and the Maryland Gazette published the memorial he then drew 
up. As the freedom of the free colored people was more and more 
curtailed, their movements restricted, Henry Price would walk up the 
hill behind his home and go into the white-pillared Capitol and say 
he wanted to see his sons up North and would the gentlemen be so 
kind as to issue travel papers. He did not always get what he wanted, 
but he never stopped trying. His religion sustained him until Emanci- 
pation came. Seven weeks later he died "in great peace and joy," said 
the Baltimore Sun of February 24, 1863, giving his obituary unusual 
space. Though snow was falling in Annapolis, the church was crowded 
with both white and colored mourners, and ministers of both races 
conducted his funeral. 

The marriage of Sarah Ann Price and Daniel Williams, Jr., is re- 
corded in the Anne Arundel County Courthouse, Annapolis; the date 
was October 31, 1843. A portion of their marriage certificate, the rest 
torn off and lost, is in the possession of Pearl Barbour Marchant, a 

Publications Mentioning Dr. Daniel Hale Williams 

The following is a list of the various published articles and bio- 
graphical entries mentioning Dr. Daniel Hale Williams. The items dif- 
fer and are often in flat contradiction; the inaccuracies are many. 

Biographies of Eminent American Physicians and Surgeons, R. French 
Stone, Indianapolis, 1894. 

Physicians and Surgeons of America, Irving A. Watson, Republican 
Press Association, Concord, New Hampshire, 1896. 

An Era of Progress and Promise, 1863-1910, W. N. Hartshorn, Bos- 
ton, 1910. 

The Book of Chicagoans, A. N. Marquis, ed., Chicago, 1911. 

Who's Who of the Colored Race, Franklin Lincoln Mather, ed., 
Vol. I, 1915. 

The National Cyclopedia of the Colored Race, Clement Richardson, 
Montgomery, Alabama, Vol. I, 1919. 

Who's Who in America, A. N. Marquis, ed., Chicago, Vol. XI, 1920- 

286 Dawiel Hale Williams 

Who's Who in American Medicine, 1925, Lloyd Thompson and Win- 
field Scott Downs, eds., New York, 1925. 

Who's Who in Chicago, A. N. Marquis, ed., Chicago, 1926. 

Another Daniel Who Dared, Rebecca Caudill, included in The Up- 
ward Climb: A Course in Negro Achievement, Sara Estelle Haskin, 
New York, 1927. 

In Spite of Handicaps, Ralph W. Bullock, New York, 1927. 

Who's Who in Colored America, Vol. I, 1927. 

Journal, American Medical Association, Vol. XCDII, No. 10, p. 721, 
September 5, 1931. 

Dr. Dan Williams: I, His Life, Irene M. Gaines, //., His Place in Medi- 
cine, U. G. Dailey, M.D., in The Crisis, Vol. 41, No. i, January 

Negro Builders and Heroes, Benjamin G. Brawley, Chapel Hill, North 
Carolina, 1937. 

Daniel Hale Williams: Pioneer Surgeon and Father of Negro Hospi- 
tals, reprint of address by Ulysses Grant Dailey, M.D., before the 
National Hospital Association, August 18, 1941. 

Daniel Hale Williams, Juliana Willis Rhodes, in Negro History Bul- 
letin, May 1942. 

Dictionary of American Biography, article on Daniel Hale Williams 
by James M. Phalen, M.D., 1943. 

Daniel Hale Williams, by Harold Farmer, in The Annals of Medical 
History, 3d series, Vol. I, No. 3, May, 1939, Whole No. 103. Farm- 
er's article wrongly ascribes a medical article by David H. Williams 
to Daniel H. Williams. 

Daniel Hale Williams, Mary E. Moxcey, in Rising Above Color, Philip 
H. Lotz, ed., New York, 1943. 

Notes by Chapters 


The Wandering Barber Finds a Home 
3 I visited Janesville, walked its streets, saw the former 

Anderson home on Glen Street, and Jefferson Public 

School in its elm-shaded park. 

Dr. Bert Anderson, the late Mara Franc Edwards, Mi- 
nerva Guernsey King, Mary Louise Hall Walker (daugh- 
ter of Eva Johnson Hall), the late Allan Burdick (son of 
the postmaster at Edgerton) and EfEe Lord Williams fur- 
nished contemporary information concerning Dr. Dan's 
youth in Janesville. Further details were added by Richard 
Lloyd Jones, Etta E. Loomis, Angie T. Roethe, Mary Eliz- 
abeth Sutherland, Dr. Charles Sutherland, Grace S. Lord, 
Lillie Smith Alexander, Emma L. Warren-Mallet, the late 
Julia West Paul, and William B. Turner. 

The files of the Janesville Gazette for the late 'yos and 
early '8os, kindly sent me on microfilm by the publisher, 
Robert W. Bliss, were excellent sources for events, persons 
and weather. 

Although a half dozen biographical dictionaries place 
Daniel Hale Williams's birth date in 1858, 1 use 1856, which 
is the date given in the U. S. Census records of Hollidays- 
burg, Pennsylvania, for 1860 and of Janesville, Wisconsin, 
for 1880; these agree on 1856, and the former was given 
by his parents. Also when Dr. Dan registered officially 

Daniel Hale Williams 

PAGE with the Illinois State Board of Health as a physician, on 

4 April 1 8, 1883, he gave his age as twenty-eight. This too 

(Com.) points to 1856, making him at his registration twenty- 
seven years and three months old, or in his twenty-eighth 

Dr. Dan's parents may have chosen his middle name 
Hale for the Abolitionist, John Parker Hale, nominee of 
the Free Soilers for the Presidency in 1852, or for a lawyer 
named Reuben Hale who seems to have acted as inter- 
mediary for members of the family in certain property 
transfers in Lewistown. 

I visited Hollidaysburg, saw Dr. Dan's birthplace, the 
Diamond, and the location of the old canal and the Portage 
Railroad. Reminiscences of early Hollidaysburg were told 
by Charles Brown, Harriet Dennis Hollinger, and 
Harry A. Jacobs. Mr. Jacobs gave the location of Dr. Dan's 
father's barbershop on the Diamond, a fine situation to 
which he moved from the earlier location on the docks. 

Dr. Dan's birthplace at 315 Blair Street still stands, 
though it has been added to and now almost touches the 
street. Originally a square frame structure, solidly built, it 
stood some distance back from the street on a plot 60 by 
100 feet and cost, with its outbuildings, $600 in April 1849. 
There were two rooms and a hall downstairs, and two 
rooms upstairs. Before Dan was born, his father had sold 
off 26 feet of the lot. The remaining property sold for $800 
in 1866. We know the children had a dog, because a dog 
tax was paid. They could watch the Conestoga wagons 
lumber in with farm produce and deliver it at the new 
market place which stood across Wayne Street to the east 
and watch the engrossing stream of strangers coming to 
the Exchange Hotel across Montgomery Street to the west. 
Two blocks to the south lay the canal and its teeming 
docks and above those towered gaunt, tawny Chimney 
Rocks. A runaway slave hid among Chimney Rocks before 
the Civil War and during it little Dan, aged seven, his 
mother and sisters, and other women and children, spent 
a cowering day there fearing the arrival of Southern 
troops, which fortunately did not come. Directly back of 
Dan's home was the Town Hall; Mr. and Mrs. Tom 
Thumb came every year. A traveling circus came twice a 


PAGE year. There were good swimming holes in the Juniata 

4 River and wonderful Emancipation Day celebrations on 

(Cont.) its banks. 

The interesting history of Hollidaysburg, the canal and 
the Portage Railroad is told in: A Pleasant Peregrination 
through the Prettiest Parts of Pennsylvania, Peregrine Pro- 
lix, 1836; History of the Early Settlement of the Juniata 
V alley , Uriah James "Jones, 1856, with Notes and Exten- 
sion by Floyd G. Hoenstine, 1940, Telegraph Press, Harris- 
burg, Pennsylvania; History of the City of Altoona and 
Blair County, James H. Ewing and Harry Slep, 1880; His- 
tory of Huntingdon and Blair Counties., Pennsylvania, 
J. Simpson Africa, Philadelphia, 1883; American Notes, 
Charles Dickens, Carleton's New Illustrated Edition, New 
York, 1885; Biographical and Portrait Cyclopedia of Blair 
County, Pennsylvania, Samuel T. Wiley and W. Scott 
Garner, 1892; A History of Blair County, Pennsylvania, 
Tarring S. Davis, ed., 1931; A History of Blair County, 
A Project of the Students and Teachers of the Social Sci- 
ence Department of the Altoona Senior High School, 1938; 
The Juniata Canal and Old Portage Railroad, Harry A. 
Jacobs, published in mimeographed form by the Blair 
County Historical Society, September 20, 1941. 


When Dr. Dan's father, Daniel Williams, Jr., moved to 
Hollidaysburg, the town, the canal and the Portage Rail- 
road were internationally famous. Engineers and govern- 
ment officials and important people came from all over the 
world to exclaim at man's genius in conquering the Alle- 
gheny barrier by a series of inclined planes and cable cars. 
Charles Dickens found it "very pretty traveling" and 
Jenny Lind was so entranced with the view, so like her 
own Sweden, that she burst into rapturous song to the 
delight of the bystanders. Boatload after boatload of hu- 
man beings, whole households, their belongings and their 
cattle, went westward through Hollidaysburg. Machinery 
was invented which swung the filled canal barges out of 
the water and directly onto railroad trucks for their trip 
over the wooden rails of the inclined planes surmounting 
the Alleghenies, and at Johnstown they were swung down 
again for the continued canal trip further westward. 
Travelers were many and Dr. Dan's father did a thriving 

290 Daniel Hale Williams 

PAGE barbering business. His sprightly advertisement appeared 

4 in the Hollidaysburg Democratic Standard for Novem- 

(Cont.) ber 7, 1846: 



South-west corner of Juniata and Montgomery streets 

The subscriber having neatly fitted up his establishment, is 
prepared to accommodate all who may give him a call, on 
the most reasonable terms. He has a superior preparation 
for effectively removing dandruff from the hair, which he 
applies to his customers, gratis. 

D. Williams, Jr. 
Wigs, Curls, Braids, &c, &c, always on hand. 

D. Williams, Jr., was the acknowledged leader of the 
small colored group in the town's three thousand inhabit- 
ants. He lent money to the preacher without much hope 
of getting It back. (See the Minutes of the Baltimore, 
Philadelphia, New York and Neiv England Annual Con- 
ferences of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church 
in America, published by Rev. T. Eato, Rev. Peter Ross, 
and Rev. Sampson Talbot, for the Conferences, Zuille and 
Leonard, Printers, New York, 1852.) He was the trustee 
in whose name was placed the deed for the site of the 
African Wesleyan Church. And when the free colored 
people met over the years in state and national conventions 
seeking freedom for their race and relief from their own 
burdens, and when Hollisdaysburg could send only one 
delegate, he was the one to go. At Syracuse in 1864 he 
helped frame the National Equal Rights League and re- 
turned to Pennsylvania to work valiantly organizing, try- 
ing to bring about harmony, urging work and more work, 
education and more education. (See the Democratic Stand- 
ard of Hollidaysburg, Vol. Ill, No. 31, Whole No. 217, 
December 8, 1847; also issues for April 21, June 23, and 
November 17, 1847; August 8, 1855; July 8, 1863. Also the 
Hollidaysburg Register, Vol. XXIX, No. 32, June 7, 1865.) 

He helped with the printing and distribution of a Pre- 
amble and Constitution, reassuring the faltering: "We have 
seen the giant Slavery melt away in an incredibly short 
time and may quite as reasonably hope to see the rights 
of man acknowledged . . . the true interests of the coun- 


PAGE try demand our recognition ... do not fear, eternal jus- 

4 tice is on our side . . . we ask no special privileges . . . 

(Cont.) only a fair chance in the race of life and recognition ac- 
cording to our personal merits. To ask less is not manly 
to ask more is foolishness." Schooling, schooling for old 
and young Daniel Williams, Jr., and the others urged 
schooling constantly. "We must get education. Those who 
have not had early advantages should form day schools 
and night schools and try to learn each other . . . we ut- 
terly fail in our duty to our children if we neglect to give 
them education. Far better it is for us to do with plainer 
food and less finery and carefully cultivate the minds of 
those who must take our places." 

The League addressed an appeal to Congress: ". . . in 
the name of God, we ask you not to allow us to be robbed 
of the price of our blood, our sufferings, and that which is 
ours by birth-right and taxation." Congress parried and 
equivocated. League rallies were held up and down the 
state, women joining with the men. Songs were written, 
printed and fervently sung: 

Are you a member of the League, 

Contending for the right? 
Have you already done your part, 

Or 'will you start tonight? 

Some songs rang with religious fervor; others saucily paro- 
died popular tunes: 

We've fought the Union's battles, yet 
They will not give us suffrage 

And as we think we've earned it quite, 
At this we've taken umbrage. 

They've given us a "Bureau," and 
They think they're our promoters, 

I think they'd benefit us more 
By making us all voters. 

In August 1866 the Pennsylvania League held its second 
state-wide meeting at Pittsburgh. Forty-one auxiliary 
Leagues were reported in the state; membership in the 
churches had doubled through the League efforts. Daniel 
Williams, Jr., had less than a year to live, but he was there 
and working as hard as ever. He sat on a half dozen com- 

292 Daniel Hale Williams 

PAGE mittees and was chosen one of three delegates to represent 

4 the colored people of Pennsylvania at a national meeting 
(Cont.) to be held in Nashville in the fall. The national meeting 

was not held, however, and the following May Dr. Dan's 
father died of consumption. 

5 The active work of Dr. Dan's father and other Wil- 
liamses in both national and state conventions of free 
colored people before and after the Civil War is found in 
the Minutes and Proceedings, and other publications of 
those conventions: national, 1832, 1833, I ^35 I ^43, 1847, 
1853, l8 55 l8<5 4; state, Pennsylvania, 1838, 1841, 1848, 
1865, 1866, 1868; Ohio, 1849; Illinois, 1853, 1856, 1867. 
Titles are lengthy and space forbids listing them. A synop- 
sis and evaluation of the conventions is given in The Early 
Negro Convention Movement, John W. Cromwell, The 
American Negro Academy, Occasional Papers, No. 9, 

6 Just when Sarah and Daniel Williams moved their brood 
to the old Price home in Annapolis is not certain -or 
whether they went initially for a visit or as a permanent 
move, knowing Daniel Williams was fated to die soon. On 
October 9, 1865, the barber arranged with Attorney Es- 
sington Hammond in Hollidaysburg to "bargain and sell 
or lease" the home and what remained of the original lot 
on Blair Street. Six months later Lawyer Hammond made 
the sale. So they might have gone in October 1865, when 
Hammond was given power of attorney and when another 
hard winter was approaching, or they might have gone in 
April when the house was sold. The following August 
when the barber attended the State Equal Rights League 
meeting in Pittsburgh, he was listed as a delegate from 
Hollidaysburg. In September when his daughters were 
enrolled in St. Frances' Academy in Baltimore, their home 
was given as Hollidaysburg. Perhaps the family was still in 
Hollidaysburg, or perhaps they hoped to go back there 
eventually. If so, they never did, for the barber died in 

The Hollidaysburg Register & Blair County Weekly 
News- of May 15, 1867, tells of his death on Sunday, 
May 5, in Annapolis. His age is given as fifty years, 
one month and eighteen days, which would place his birth 


PAGE in 1817, an obvious error. Two U. S. Census reports, taken 

6 ten years apart, place his birth date in 1820. He was there- 

(Cont.) fore only forty-seven when he died. A joint tombstone 

erected in Annapolis over the graves of Dr. Dan's father 

and his brother Price gives erroneous ages for both. 

A number of photographs seem to date from this time. 
There was a photographer's shop upstairs over the Holli- 
daysburg barbershop. What more natural than a wish to 
record this epoch as it ended? Sarah Williams, her Indian 
tresses still raven black, unstreaked with gray, seems to 
turn her face away from the future. Her husband, his 
cheeks sunken, his eyes large and shining, faces you 
squarely, undaunted. Young Dan, every feature a replica 
of his father's, stands at his knee, his small hand on the 
paternal shoulder, his gaze turned away, perhaps to the 
window, to the Allegheny hills where he would like to 

The late Caroline Parke told of Price Williams's activi- 
ties as a young man. 

Dan's sisters, Ida just older than himself, Alice just 
younger, remained in St. Frances' Academy, Baltimore, 
four years, a famous school founded by the Oblate Sisters 
of Providence. Wealthy Southern planters sent their il- 
legitimate mulatto daughters to genteel St. Frances' Acad- 
emy for education. Sarah Price Williams sent her daugh- 
ters there because, after her husband's death, she, along 
with other friends in Annapolis, was converted to Ca- 
tholicism. Alice had poor health and her record was mod- 
est as to grades but ardent in religious aspects. Ida, who 
was lame from an improperly set broken leg and always 
wore a high orthopedic shoe, took a prominent part in 
activities. At her graduation she sang a solo, played the 
piano, and delivered the Farewell Address. Alice never 
married, but Ida married William Cornell and had two 
daughters. She became a dressmaker, as her mother had 
been before her, taught younger women in Annapolis, 
made costumes for a traveling Mikado company, and even 
sent some of her fine sewing into the White House. The 
Mother Superior of St. Frances' Academy kindly searched 
out old records, handwritten in French, to show me, and 

294 Daniel Hale Williams 

PAGE brought to my attention The Oblates* Hundred and One 

6 Years, Grace H. Sherwood, 1931. 

(Cont.) Annie who returned East with her mother married a 

Mr. Clay and, after his death, Samuel Barbour, whom she 
divorced some time following the birth of a daughter. 

The Rockford cousins were four, all men of consider- 
able property and important in community life: David, 
John and James Williams, sons of Peter Williams of Co- 
lumbia, Pennsylvania, and Reuben Armstrong, the wealth- 
iest, who in 1870 owned property valued at $7000, a high 
figure for those days. David and John had wandered far, 
through the wilds of Michigan and Wisconsin, before 
settling in Rockford, and after some years they wandered 
still farther. David settled finally in Mexico City. John 
trekked to New Mexico in '53 with the army; his son 
Hugo Williams has a letter written him by Colonel 
John C. Tidball, April 27, 1886, affectionately recalling the 
rigors they endured together on that adventure. In Rock- 
ford after the Civil War, John organized war widows* 
relief and helped found Grand Army Post No. i. Reuben 
finally went further west and settled in Arkansas. 

The shoemaker to whom Dan was apprenticed was 
C. M. C. Mason, whose daughter Anna confirmed the fact. 
Sarah Jennings said William H. Butler, another Annapolis 
boy, went at the same time as Dan to "Mr, Mason's Train- 
ing Schools for Boys." Both Anna Mason and Dr. Dan's 
niece, Ada Blanche Williams, say Dr. Dan "ran away." 
Gaines, op. cit., says his mother sent for him and he 
proudly traveled alone. Caudill, op. cit., tells the story of 
the railroad pass and that his mother did not scold him. 
And Ada Blanche Williams added the remark that he 
could take care of himself. 

7 Neither the Andersons nor Dan were in Janesville in 
1870 according to the U. S. Census, nor was Dan in Edger- 
ton then, or in Rockford. Allan Burdick remembered Dan 
in Edgerton about 1873 a "d Dr. Bert Anderson said "Dan 
went for the doctor the night I was born," which was in 
1876. The years 1868-1873 are unaccounted for in Dan's 
life, from the time he reached Rockford at about twelve 
until he appeared in Edgerton, running his own barber- 
shop, at seventeen. 


PAGE Dr. N. C. Gilbert, who attended Dr. Dan in Ms last ill- 

7 ness, said Dr. Dan told him he was a pilot on the Sault Ste. 

(Cont.) Marie, also that he played baseball at the University of 
Wisconsin. I have been unable to verify either statement, 
and the University of Wisconsin has no record of Dan's 
attendance there, though I have a photograph of Dan bear- 
ing the name of a Madison photographer and apparently 
taken when he was about sixteen or seventeen. Dr. 
Charles L. Sutherland, a classmate at Chicago Medical Col- 
lege, stated Dan told him he had worked on the boats and 
assumed it was as a steward since he felt that would ac- 
count for Dan's excellent table manners! A patient, Louise 
Rainey, remembered Dr. Dan once remarked: "Lots of the 
boys got their medical education working on the railroads; 
I used to work on the boats." Caudill, op. cit., says he 
played in an orchestra on boats, but places the event during 
summer vacations at medical college. Those vacations are 
otherwise accounted for. 

I can find no foundation for the legend Dan was aban- 
doned in Janesville in rags by his mother. There is no 
evidence his mother ever went to Wisconsin. Mary Louise 
Hall Walker lived near the Andersons as a child, when 
Sally and Dan first came there, and remembered that 
Sally "had a way of earning her living; it was not sewing." 
The way, of course, was the hair goods trade. 

Everyone from the late Allan Burdick, the earliest liv- 
ing acquaintance of Dr. Dan that I met, onward through 
his life, spoke of his meticulous grooming and polished 
manners. The same was said of his uncle, Peter Wil- 

Accounts of barbering in the early days and the Ne- 
gro's role in that occupation are found in Early History 
of Negroes in business In Philadelphia, a paper read by 
Henry M. Minton, M.D., before the American Historical 
Society, March 1913, and in The Tonsorial Art, a pam- 
phlet by M. J. Vieira, 1877. 

A contemporary account of the hair goods work Sally 
Williams did may be found in Self-Instructor in the Art 
of Hair Work, Dressing Hair, Making Curls, Switches, 
Braids, and Hair Jewelry of Every Description, Compiled 
jrom Original Designs and the Latest Parisian Patterns, 
Mark Campbell, New York and Chicago, 1867. 

296 Daniel Hale Williams 

PAGE Dan's sister Sally married a mulatto, Bhiford Turner, 

7 whose family owned considerable property in the heart of 
(Cont.) Portage. A nephew, William B. Turner, remembers how 

the bride from the East taught him "gestures and dic- 
tion" when he was a high school boy. Sally divorced Blu- 
ford Turner and years later, some time after 1898, married 
a Nesbit. 

Who's Who, 1921 states Dan attended Janesville High 
School; other biographical dictionaries say he was gradu- 
ated, one says in 1873. Rosemary Enright, Attendance De- 
partment, Janesville Public Schools, says he was not gradu- 
ated; attendance records are not now in existence for those 

"Red Iron Ore" is from Ballads and Songs of the Shanty- 
Boy, collected and edited by Franz Rickaby, Harvard Uni- 
versity Press, Cambridge, 1926, 1954. 

8 The Harrisburg uncle, Harry Price, besides being a good 
musician and a barber, was also a phrenologist. When bar- 
bering he would run his hands over a customer's head to 
feel the bumps and tell what sort of man he was. One day 
a customer no sooner sat down and Harry Price started 
work than the barber cried: "Why, you're a dishonest 
man. You've stolen something!" At that moment the police 
walked in and took their man, all lathered up as he was. 
Harry Price left a large family of ten children. One 
daughter married a white man. Another daughter, Vic- 
toria Adelaide Nicholson, was an accomplished pianist, 
the first woman of color to play the organ at the New- 
England Conservatory of Music. A son died an army cook 
in Albuquerque, New Mexico, from which distant place 
his eight year old daughter returned East, saying her pray- 
ers in Spanish. After Harry Price's death, his white wife, 
Mary, continued for years in business at the house in 
Harrisburg purchased by her father-in-law, Reverend 
Price of Annapolis. M. J. Price & Son, Wigmakers, had 
customers from Seattle to New York. 

Dan loved playing the bass viol He urged Allan Burdick 
to learn. The famous Anderson band numbered twenty 
pieces winds, strings and drums all white men except 


PAGE the Andersons and Dan. Old-timers remember it as "the 

8 best I ever danced to." 

The early history of Janesville is from the History of 
Rock County and Transactions of the Rock County Agri- 
cultural Society and Mechanics Institute, Orrin Guernsey 
and Josiah F. Willard, eds., 1856; The History of Rock 
County, Wisconsin, Western Historical Co., Chicago, 
1879; Picturesque Janesville, brochure, 1892; Janesville, 
Wisconsin, Illustrated, brochure, Art Gravure & Etching 
Co., Milwaukee, 1892; and Rock County, Wisconsin: A 
New History, William Fiske Brown, Chicago, 1908, 2 vols. 
City directories of the period were useful too. 

9 Minerva Guernsey King told of her father's lending 
books to Dan. Caudill, op. cit., gives the subjects which 
were favorite with him. 

The Janesville Classical Academy, run by the tall, spare 
Reverend John P. Haire and his short, plump wife, a 
graduate of the first class at Mount Holyoke, had none of 
the dignity of the red brick Jefferson Public School set 
in its elm-shaded square. The Academy was located down- 
town in rented quarters over a drugstore in the Mitchell 
Block. Only about fifty pupils attended, children of the 
"best" families; they were of all grades, some still in the 
lower branches of study. 

10 The History of Rock County, Wisconsin, cited above 

(Notes for page 8) gives the oculist's name as J. F. Hulli- 
hin and says he was from West Virginia. I use data fur- 
nished me by the late Mara Franc Edwards, preferring it 
to the uncertain editing of the old volume. 

12 The Gazette, in describing a ball at the end of January 

1877, where "spacious Apollo Hall swarmed with beauty 
and fashion of the city" and where "Anderson's orchestra 
discoursed the music until 4:00 A.M.," said also that "Miss 
Ida Williams appeared handsomely in white Paris muslin." 
Her mother Mrs. J. P. Williams wore "pink silk en train." 

14. Carrie Jacobs, in the years to come, when she was Mrs. 

Bond would set the whole country to singing her songs 

298 Daniel Hale Williams 

PAGE "I Love You Truly" and "The End of a Perfect Day." She 

14 arid Ida Williams, her stepsister, were not very fond of 

(Cent.) each other, or of the fact their widowed parents had mar- 
ried. They chose separate schools. 

Biographical notes on Dr. Simeon Lord may be found 
in; R. French Stone, op. cit.; Portrait and Biographical 
Album of Rock County., Wisconsin, published by Acme 
Publishing Co., Chicago, 1889; Commemorative Biographi- 
cal Record of the Counties of Rock, Green, Grant, Iowa, 
and Lafayette, Wisconsin, published by Beers, 1901; For- 
traits and Biographies, Including the Governor of Wis- 
consin and the President of the United States, no author, 
copyrighted by Chapman Bros., 1885. 


A Medical Apprentice in 1878 

15 The biographical dictionaries differ as to the date of 

Dan's graduation from Haire's Classical Academy, also 
called the Janesville Classical Academy; some give 1877, 
others 1878. Both the late Mara Franc Edwards and Mi- 
nerva Guernsey King told me that Dan was in attendance 
with them and that they were graduated in the spring of 
1877. Minnie Guernsey left to study in Boston in Septem- 
ber 1877, a date confirmed by an item in the Gazette. 
Presumably then Dan Williams also was graduated in the 
spring of 1877, studied law the winter of 1877-78, and went 
into Palmer's office the spring or summer of '78. 

The Janesville Gazette for August 2, 1877, gave most of 
its front page to the Emancipation Day speech of the local 
Republican Congressman, the Honorable Charles G. Wil- 
liams. Mr. Williams said in that speech, quite possibly quot- 
ing Harry Anderson: "I heard a better answer to this [the 
Negro] question in one of the barber shops of Janesville 
than I should expect to find in all the books of the philos- 
ophers. A colored man said: 'The white people pity us, but 
pity won't buy bread. We have a harder row to hoe than 
they, and what the colored men of this country need is to 
obtain property and hold it.' " 


PAGE Caudill, op. cit., states Dan studied law with a Janesville 

15 lawyer, and Ada Blanche Williams confirmed the fact, but 
(Cont.) neither gave the name of the lawyer. Dan's explanation of 

why he hated law is from Caudill, op. cit. 

1 6 Mary Louise Hall Walker told of Dan's driving her 
mother, Eva Johnson Hall, to Mt. Zion with her carpet 
rags. The case of Hopkins's gunshot wound was described 
in the Gazette. 

17 Mrs. John Siebert Taylor and the late Mrs. M. O. Mouat, 
daughters of Dr. Palmer, told of Dan's study with their 
father, as did Dr. Charles L. Sutherland, who told as well 
of Pember and Mills. City directories confirm all three. 
In September 1879 tne Gazette said Will Palmer had gone 
to Chicago to "continue" his medical studies. This could 
mean he had, been in Chicago the year before, 1878-1879, 
or it could mean that he was continuing after his appren- 
ticeship with his father. His sister, Mrs. Taylor, thinks 
Will went in 1879. Hartshorn, op, cit., says Dan studied 
with Palmer two years; R. French Stone, op. cit., says four 
years. Two years seems correct by other data. 

1 8 The old preceptor system is described in The Life of 
Chevalier Jackson: An Autobiography, 1938; in The Doc- 
tors Mayo, Helen Clapesattle, 1934, as well as in numerous 
other medical biographies. 

Biographical notes on Dr. Henry Palmer are found in 
works cited for Dr. Simeon Lord, Notes for page 14. 

20 I date Pember and Mills's coming to Palmer by the dates 
of their leaving Milton College and by Janesville city di- 

Dan Williams was devoted to his preceptor. When 
Henry Palmer died in 1895, he left an important post to 
come back to Janesville for the funeral, and called on each 
member of the family in turn to express his gratitude to 
the man who had started him off so well. "All I am, I owe 
to him," Dr. Dan said. 

21 Dan's new clothes and his mustache are described from 
a photograph. 

300 Daniel Hale Williams 

PAGE Julia LeBeau Thompson and Emma L. Warren-Mallet 

21 told of Harry Anderson's desire that Traviata and Dan 
(Cont.) should marry. 

22 The Illinois State Medical Register for 1877-1878, D. W. 
Graham, A.M., M.D., ed., Chicago, 1877, lists the follow- 
ing medical sects: Botanic, Eclectic, Homeopathic, Physio- 
Medical, Regular, and Thompsonian. 

The superiority of Chicago Medical over Rush is set 
forth in a statement of Nicholas Senn found in Joy of Liv- 
ing, 2 vols., Franklin Martin, Chicago, 1933. Description of 
the college is from this work and from personal recollec- 
tions of Dr. Coleman Buford and a manuscript speech of 
the late Dr. William E. Morgan furnished me by Dr. 

The early history of Chicago Medical College is taken 
from Dedication of the Montgomery Ward Memorial 
Building, by various authors, Chicago, 1927. 

25 John Jones is briefly spoken of in Black Metropolis, St. 

Clair Drake and Horace Cay ton, New York, 1945. Further 
details of the story of the Joneses are from the Chicago 
Tribune, May 22, 1879, reminiscences of the granddaugh- 
ter, Theodora Lee Purnell, and data furnished by Franklyn 
A. Henderson from his personal files of historical material. 
The Jones home on Ray Avenue (now 29th Place) was 
identified for me by Mr. Henderson. The participation of 
John Jones in the early Negro conventions is established 
by the Proceedings of those conventions national for 
1848 and 1853, and Illinois for 1853, l8 5<5 ar *d ^67. John 
Jones was born in 1816 on a plantation in North Carolina, 
son of a free mulatto mother and a German father, John 
Bromfield. Though he was free, his mother feared he 
might be reduced to slavery, and apprenticed him at an 
early age to a man moving to Tennessee. This man in turn 
bound him out to a tailor who refused him his liberty at 
twenty-one. John (who now used his mother's name) 
prayed the court for a writ of habeas corpus, was allowed 
to return to North Carolina where he, secured proof of his 
age and free status, and returning was allowed to go his 
own way. In 1845, protected by his freedom papers, he 


PAGE brought his bride Mary to Chicago, a slow seven-day trip 

25 by stage and canal. They had $3.50 with which to start 
(Cont.) life. They rented a one-room cottage and a shop 6J by 20 

feet on a spot now the Clark Street entrance to the Sher- 
man House. By pawning his watch and laying out his 
money judiciously, and with $2 worth of groceries ob- 
tained from a colored grocer on credit, the Joneses started 
their tailoring business. Before the Great Fire of 1871 he 
was worth $80,000. The fire destroyed much of his prop- 
erty but he recovered enough to leave a good fortune to 
his family when he died. He had to learn to read and write 
after he came to Chicago; he managed to do this and be- 
came a leader for Negro rights. His house was a rendez- 
vous for Abolitionists, black and white, and a station on 
the underground railroad, sheltering many fugitives on 
their way to Canada. His freedom papers repose in the 
Chicago Public Library. 

26 For the story of Samuel F. Williams of Johnstown, see 
his Four Years in Liberia, A Sketch of the Life of the Rev. 
Samuel Williams with remarks on the missions, manners 
and customs of the natives of Western Africa: Together 
with an answer to Nesbtfs book, Philadelphia, King & 
Baird, printers, 1857. Nesbit took a pessimistic view of 
colonization. His book is Four Months in Liberia, or, 
African Colonization Exposed, by William Nesbit of Hol- 
lidaysburg, Pennsylvania, June 1855. 


Dan Goes to Medical School 

28 The description of the opening of Chicago's medical 
colleges in the fall of 1880 is from the Chicago Tribune, 
Vol. XL, September 29, 1880. 

Dan's timidity in meeting new white people was ex- 
plained to me by W. E. B. DuBois, who was his friend. 

The description of Dean Davis and his opening remarks 
are based on Martin, op. cit. 

29 A packet of Dan's letters to Harry Anderson were found 
in Dr. Dan's effects after his death and were given to me 

302 Daniel Hale Williams 

PAGE by his niece, A. Blanche Williams. Copies of excerpts of 

29 other letters from Dan to Anderson were given rne by 
(Cont.) Dr. Bert Anderson. 

30 Advertisements of Goodwin's Froliques and Josh Whit- 
comb are found in the Chicago Daily Inter '-Ocean, Vol. IX, 
September 25-30, 1880. 

It appears that $3.75 was a weekly rate, although Mrs. 
Jones may have finally made it $10 a month. Later he says 
he owes Mrs. Jones $8.75 and it will seem this covered a 
month's room and board, since he also says he needs $1.25 
for incidentals and that $10 will see him through a month. 
The College catalogue stated: "The price of board and 
lodging will vary from $4 to $6 per week. Vacant rooms 
for those who desire to board and lodge themselves may 
be had at prices ranging from $6 to f 10 per month." 

33 The requirements, courses of study, faculty, lists of 

students and graduates, etc., of Chicago Medical College 
are taken from the Announcements of the school for the 
years in question, kindly lent to me by the Northwestern 
University Medical Library. 

Additional material on Chicago Medical at this period, 
its faculty, etc., and on Mercy Hospital can be found in 
Dedication of the Montgomery Ward Memorial Building, 
by various authors, Chicago, 1927; Martin, op. cit.; The 
Medicine Man, Emilius C. Dudley, 1927; History of Med- 
icine and Surgery, and Physicians and Surgeons of Chi- 
cago, Chicago Medical Society, 1922; Sixty -second Annual 
Report of Mercy Hospital, Chicago, January i, 1912. 

Chicago Medical College indeed required "hard work 
and much study." The schedule was heavy, the instructors 
demanding, and the student's preparation poor. If Dan had 
no bachelor's degree, neither did Frank Pember nor two 
other Janesville youths then enrolled, Charles Sutherland 
and Hugh Menzies. Only Will Palmer and James Mills of 
Dan's home-town contemporaries were so fortified. Actu- 
ally only fifteen per cent of Dan's class was equipped with 
a preliminary degree. The usual prior education of a 
medico of the early '8os was eight years of grade school 
and no more. 


PAGE Theodora Lee Purnell told how medical students con- 

34 tinually dropped in to visit Dan in her grandmother's 


36 Dan's despondency was added to by the poor health of 
his sister Sally, who had divorced Bluford Turner and re- 
turned East with her young daughter. When he failed to 
get further word from home, he was sure she was going to 
die. James Mills had been ill too, and, though now out of 
danger, Dan felt his beloved friend had come very near 
losing his life. Dan always expected the worst. 

37 The smallpox epidemic is described in Martin, op. cit. 

38 The failure of 20 per cent of Dan's first year class is 
stated in the Chicago Medical Journal and Examiner for 
May 1 88 1. A partial record of Dan's grades, all that was 
available, was furnished me by the Registrar of North- 
western University Medical Department. Dr. Charles 
Sutherland stated Dan was rather below average as a 
medical student. 

I was disappointed not to discover more about Dan's 
Aunt Charlotte. He mentions her twice in letters to Ander- 
son, and with respect. But living descendants could re- 
member only that she lived to a great old age and fright- 
ened them almost to death when they were children by 
getting up in the night and creeping about like a ghost, 
tucking covers solicitously over them. No one knew 
whether she was a Price or a Wilks. 

Price and his wife had separated, despite their five chil- 
dren. That was the end of the whirlwind romance that had 
begun when Price had persuaded the red-haired, blue-eyed 
Matilda Maria Agnes Maduro to elope with him from her 
convent school near Poughkeepsie. 


The Barber Becomes a Doctor 

41 Descriptions of prebacteriological medicine and surgery 

and the introduction of modern surgery are drawn from 
the following: How We Treat Wounds Today, Robert T. 

304 Daniel Hale Williams 

PAGE Morris, 1886; The Rules of Aseptic and Antiseptic Surgery, 

41 Arpad Gerster, 1887; Fifty Years a Surgeon, Robert T. 
(Cont.) Morris, 1935; Mtartin, op. cit.; Dudley, op. cit.; American 

Doctors of Destiny, Frank J. Jirka, 1940; A Surgeon's Life, 
J. M. T. Finney, 1940; Transactions, Southern Surgical and 
Gynecological Association, Vol. 24, pp. 609-611, 1911; The 
Chicago Medical Journal and Examiner, 1880-1884. 

42 I have drawn heavily on Martin, op. cit., for description 
of Dan's first operation (Martin does not say whether or 
not the patient recovered). The two men were contempo- 
raries. Martin was graduated the spring before Dan en- 
tered Chicago Medical and during Dan's first year was 
serving as interne at Mercy Hospital. The two began at 
this time a friendship that lasted for life. 

46 There was no hospital in Janesville at this time. Births 
took place in the home; perhaps apprentices were not 
allowed to attend. Women were more prudish then. Dr. 
Palmer, though he did some surgery, undoubtedly took 
childbirth cases too. Specialization did not come in the 
Midwest until much later. There is no evidence that Dan's 
racial mixture had anything to do with his remark that he 
could not see childbirth cases in Janesville. 

47 The following receipt was found in Dr. Dan's papers 
after his death: 

"Chicago Aug 22nd 90 

"Received from Dan'l H Williams one thousand dollars 
payment in full of all demands against him for money 
advanced to begin and complete his medical education and 
in consideration of the above sum I hereby release him 
from all obligations, [signed'] C. H. Anderson." 

The handwriting, except for the signature, is in Dr. 
Dan's hand. The sum seems much beyond anything that 
Dan was borrowing to pay for his room, board and the 
fees for his second and third years. The first year he 
borrowed money at the bank for his fees. The second year 
fees were $91 and the third year fin. He may have paid 
only $60, or as much as $97.50, a year for board, depending 
upon whether his rate was $3.75 a week or $10 a month. 
Even at the higher rate, it appears he borrowed only about 
$500 for the three years. The wording of the receipt 


PAGE sounds a little strange, as though some sort of demands 

47 were being made upon Dr. Dan at this date, if not by 
(Cont.) Harry Anderson, always so good a friend, then perhaps 

by George who was just now entering dental school be- 
latedly at the age of thirty-five. The debt may have been 
paid some time before this date. Dr. Bert Anderson thinks 
his father also loaned Dr. Dan money while he was getting 
started in practice, but the receipt does not mention this, 
and Dr. Anderson was a young child when Dan went to 
college and was only fourteen in 1890. 

48 DeWolf s work as health commissioner is told by Dud- 
ley, op. cit. An editorial in the Chicago Medical Journal 
and Examiner for August 1884 says: "No! Chicago will 
not have the cholera! She is protected by Vaccination' 
from a great deal worse! She has her wash-pot, her cham- 
ber-pot, and her drinking cup in the great lake at her feet, 
and can look with a smile into the rheumy eyes of the 
Tilth Plague!' " 

Dudley always remembered Dan, and years later, finish- 
ing an operation at St. Luke's before a group of visiting 
Southern white doctors, he took occasion to say as he drew 
off his rubber gloves: "Gentlemen, I recommend you stay 
on for the next operation. It will be performed by the 
famous Negro surgeon, Daniel Hale Williams." But the 
visitors, loyal to their prejudices, all filed out. Dr. Dan told 
the story to Dr. U. G. Dailey, and Dailey told it to me. 

Accounts of Fenger are from Bulletin of the Society of 
Medical History of Chicago, Vol. I, p. 99, March 1919, 
"Christian Fenger: A Biographical Sketch, 1840-1902," 
Coleman Buford, M.D.; Vol. 3, p. 55, January 1923, "Chris- 
tian Fenger As I Knew Him," L. L. Me Arthur, M.D.; and 
A History of Medicine and Surgery, and Physicians and 
Surgeons of Chicago, Endorsed and Published under the 
Supervision of the Council of the Chicago Medical Society, 
Chicago, 1922. Also letters from Dr. Coleman Buford. 

American College of Surgeons records indicate Dr. Dan 
served as interne or resident assistant to Mercy Hospital 
April i to October i, 1883, but a letter dated March 14, 
1947, written to me by Sister Mary Therese, R.N., Medi- 

306 Daniel Hale Williams 

PAGE cal Director of Mercy Hospital, states that hospital records 

48 show the internes for the year 1883-1884 were J. F. Pem- 

(Cont.) ber, P. Dougherty, W. M. Kelly, and D. Scudder, and that 
there is no record that Dan Williams served in this ca- 
pacity at Mercy Hospital at any time. We know from his 
letters, however, that he did assist in Mercy wards in an 
unofficial capacity from April to October 1882. 

Dan's beard is revealed in the class photograph sent me 
by Dr. Charles Sutherland. 

The Chicago Medical Journal and Examiner, March 
1883, gives the prize winners of the Class of '83 and de- 
scribes Commencement. The program was found in Dr. 
James Mills's scrapbook kindly loaned me by his son, Dr. 
James Mills, Jr. 

Operating in a Dining Room 

50 A letter from F. V. Cargill, American Medical Associa- 
tion, states Dr. Dan secured a license to practice medicine 
in the District of Columbia, March 1883 (day not given). 

The Official Register of Physicians and Midwives Now 
in Practice to Whom Certificates Have Been Issued by the 
State Board of Health of Illinois 1877-1886, H. W. Rokker, 
State Printer, Springfield, 1886, gives the following entry 
for Dr. Dan: "Registered April 18, 1883, Address 3034 
Michigan Avenue, Age 28, Certificate issued April 16, 
1883, on basis of Chicago Medical College diploma, dated 
March 27, 1883, Certificate filed for record April 18, 

The experience of Morgan and Billings in starting prac- 
tice is from Martin, op. cit. 

Street addresses of the offices of Morgan, Billings and 
Dr. Dan are found in the Medical Directory of Illinois for 

51 Description of the colored colony in 1885 is drawn from 
Drake and Cayton, op. cit. y and from The Colored Men's 


PAGE Professional and Business Directory of Chicago, and Valu- 

51 able Information of the Race in General, I. C. Harris, July 

(Cont.) 1885. 

Franklyn A. Henderson, who has done considerable re- 
search on the early history of the colored colony in Chi- 
cago, where his own family were among the first settlers, 
states that Henry Hutchinson and George Revels were 
two colored doctors in Chicago before the Civil War. I 
have found no official record of Revels. H. C. Hutchin- 
son, age forty-seven, 406 South Clark Street, registered 
January n, 1878, under the Act of May 25, 1877, which 
allowed physicians to continue to practice without certifi- 
cate who had been practicing in Illinois ten years prior to 
July i, 1877; Hutchinson had been practicing in Illinois 
nineteen years then, or from 1859. 

The late Mrs. George Cleveland Hall told me that Dr. 
C. H. McAllister was the only colored doctor in Chicago 
when Dr. Dan began practicing there but there seem to 
have been three officially registered and one more not 
officially registered. The Official Register of Physicians 
and Midwives, etc., for 1877-1886, already mentioned, 
states that McAllister was graduated from Jefferson Medi- 
cal College in 1879, and was issued a certificate April 22, 
1879, at the age of thirty-nine. This same volume lists 
Woodson L. Simpson, who was graduated from Bennett 
College of Eclectic Medicine and Surgery, 1882, age 
twenty-eight, and Mary E. Green, also Bennett, 1883, age 
thirty-seven. It does not mention J. Milton Williams who 
is included with these other doctors in the 1885 Colored 
Directory, op. cit. 

The fight between the "regulars" and the "irregulars" 
was bitter and continued for years. The Eclectics main- 
tained a college in Chicago (Bennett Medical College) un- 
til 1915 and the Homeopaths held out until 1922 when 
Hahnemann Medical College closed its doors. The fight 
was perhaps all the more bitter because the regulars them- 
selves were confused and changing. The recognition of 
disease as well as its treatment was not clear. Lavish over- 
dosing with calomel brought rebellion of patients as well 
as false prophets, herb doctors, steam doctors, and so- 
called Indian doctors with secret cures presumably ob- 
tained from the aborigines. The Eclectics scorned all min- 

308 Daniel Hale Williams 

PAGE erals and claimed that the green vegetable tinctures they 

51 extracted from roots and herbs would cure all ills; while 
(Cont.) they found no panaceas, they did add many valuable drugs 

to materia medica. And the Homeopaths with their in- 
finitesimal small doses at least allowed a patient to recover 
sometimes when the fashionable huge doses of mercury 
did not. Out of all the controversy regular medicine 
emerged finally secure against the "isms" and the "pathies" 
because from time to time it pursued systematic introspec- 
tion to eliminate its defects. See History of Medical Prac- 
tice in Illinois, compiled and arranged by Lucius H. Zeuch, 
M.D., issued by the Illinois State Medical Society, Chicago, 
1927, Vol. I, p. 647. 

Dr. Dan's office hours are from Harris, op. cit. 

According to James Gordon, Dr. Dan roomed In the 
home of Charles Poynter and Poynter, when the man was 
old, "had the run of Dr. Dan's place up at Idlewild [his 
summer home]." 

52 Mrs. Jones's remarks about Dr. Dan were told by Theo- 
dora Lee Purnell. 

Dr. Dan's operation of Mrs. LeBeau was recounted by 
her daughter, Julia LeBeau Thompson, who also told how 
people called the young physician Dr. Dan, a fact also re- 
ported by others. 

53 Early operating in private homes, and the experiences 
of Billings and Martin, are told in Martin, op. cit. 

Dr. U. G. Dailey told of the horseplay among medical 
students of those days. 

The earliest biographical dictionary in which Dr. Dan's 
name has been found R. French Stone, op. cit., 1894 
states that Daniel Williams "has been Attending Physician 
to the Protestant Orphan Asylum nine years" and that he 
is "also Attending Surgeon to the South Side Dispensary," 
etc., Watson, op. cit., 1896, made the dates of the latter 
position 1884-1892 and the former 1884-1893. Mather, op. 
cit., stated nineteen years later that Dr. Dan took up the 
Dispensary job in 1884 and the Orphan Asylum position 


PAGE "on the retirement of Dr. H. P. Hatfield in 1885," and 

53 adds that Dr. Dan was "Demonstrator of Anatomy at 
(Cont.) Northwestern University Medical School four years." 

Who*s Who in America, 1920-1921, gives the same infor- 
mation as Watson. Who's Who in American Medicine, 
1925, omits the Dispensary and Orphan Asylum connec- 
tions, but makes him demonstrator in anatomy at North- 
western, 1885-1888. Who^s Who in America, 1926, agrees 
with the 1920-1921 volume of that publication. The obitu- 
ary notice in The Journal of the American Medical Asso- 
ciation, op. cit., omits reference to the Dispensary and the 
Orphan Asylum and states he was "Demonstrator of Anat- 
omy at his alma mater, 1885-88." A letter from the Refer- 
ence Librarian of Northwestern University Medical 
School, under date of January 5, 1944, states "The records 
in our Dean's office show only the following information 
about Dr. Williams: 'Served in South Side Dispensary, 
1887-1893?*" Northwestern University Announcements 
for these years do not list Dr. Dan as Demonstrator, but 
list Frank Billings for 1882 and William E. Morgan for 
1883-1886. Another source, a memorial brochure on Bill- 
ings, states that Billings was Demonstrator 1882-1886, 
which makes Billings overlap with Morgan several years. 
Probably there were several demonstrators of anatomy 
with one in charge of the others, and quite likely Dr. Dan 
did serve among them. "Trying to place a person's rela- 
tion to and in a medical school is difficult after years have 
passed," Dr. Coleman Buford wrote me. "There are so 
many departments and such large numbers in each depart- 
ment and so many grades of teachers. ... In the old days 
[there were] several persons of equal rank with none of 
them [actually] the head of the department." 

54 Several doctors, medical students under Dr. Dan, have 
written me of their experience in his classes, among them: 
Drs. Isaac A. Abt; James Alderson; Paul C. Boomer, who 
instigated the sale of iodized table salt; Andy Hall, 1952 
chairman of the Fifty Year Club of the Illinois State Medi- 
cal Society; Frank C. Jones; Coleman Buford, who served 
on the surgical staffs of a half dozen Chicago hospitals and 
was Professor of Surgery at Chicago Polyclinic. Several 
remember Charlie Mayo '88, one of the famous Minnesota 
brothers, as being present. 

3io Daniel Hale Williams 

PAGE The Chicago City Railway Company has no record of 

54 their medical staff in the early years. A newspaper article 
(Com.) by Mrs. M. R. Rogers Webb, published in The Colored 

American, Washington, D.C., November n, 1893, st ^tes 
that Dr. Dan "is on the staff of physicians employed by 
the Chicago City Railway Company." A letter from 
E. Wyllys Andrews to Hoke Smith, Secretary of the In- 
terior (NA), confirms the fact and states his high respect 
for Dr. Dan's courtroom work. 

The late Julia West Paul told of Dr. Dan's popularity, 
his singing and guitar playing. 

Dr. Bert Anderson, the only surviving member of Harry 
Anderson's family, was only six when his mother died and 
has little knowledge of the circumstances of either her 
death or Tessie's. He remembered more about Traviata 
and Bentley. 

55 Clarence Eddy, educated from the age of eleven for a 
musical career, was the director of the Hershey School of 
Musical Art in Chicago and for seventeen years organist 
and choirmaster of the First Presbyterian Church. He 
played at the Vienna Exposition 1873, the Paris Exposi- 
tion 1889, at the Chicago WorWs Fair in '93, the Pan- 
American Exposition 1901, and at the St. Louis Exposition 
1904. He was the author of many organ works. That he 
accepted Traviata Anderson as a pupil is an indication of 
her musical ability. 

Jennie L. Avendorph and Emma L. Warren-Mallet 
quoted Traviata's remark about her feeling toward Dan. 

The Reverend Shelton Hale Bishop and his sister Vic- 
toria Bishop Schuster gave the data on their father's life 
and Dr. Dan's friendship with their family. 

Dan's attendance at Stanton School is stated in Mather, 
op. cit. The attacks of whites are recounted in Report on 
Schools and Finances of Freedmen, J. W. Alvord, Inspec- 
tor, etc., for the years 1866-1870. Dan's clothes are from 
a photograph. 


56 The Right Reverend William Croswell Doane, D.D., 
LL.D., was the first bishop of the diocese of Albany of the 
Episcopal Church; he served 1869-1913. 

57 The Nina Pinchback dance incident was told by Chris- 
tine Shoecraft Smith, who said it occurred before she met 
Dr. Dan, which was in 1889. 

The late Julia West Paul first told me of the Blake 
affair. The history of the Blake family and of Kittie May 
was told by Harriet L. Van Vranken, Henrietta Van 
Vranken Americ, and Maymie Van Vranken Gibson, all 
of whom confirmed Mrs. Paul's story. Harriette Kennedy 
Brown told me her mother (a Williams) and her father, 
David Kennedy, Dan's HolKdaysburg chum, knew Dr. 
Dan had suffered a great blow. 

Bismarck Pinchback's infatuation with one of the Blake 
girls was told me by Mrs. Walter Pinchback. 

St. Agnes School for Girls was founded by Bishop 
Doane in 1870. It originally stood near the Cathedral on 
Elk Street in Albany, but in 1932 was moved to the 

59 Surmises as to why Dr. Dan did not marry are stated in 
the article in The Colored American, November n, 1893, 
entitled "Chicago's Pride," by M. R. Rogers-Webb. 

Dr. Dan's attendance at the Ninth International Medical 
Congress is determined by Who's Who in America, Vol. 
II, 1920-1921. For Mills's trip to Europe and other facts 
of his life, see Portrait and Biographical Album of Rock 
County, Wisconsin, Acme Publishing Co., Chicago, 1889. 
Persons and events connected with the Congress are taken 
from the published Proceedings. 

60 Changing Chicago is described in Architecture of Old 
Chicago, Thomas E. Tallmadge, University of Chicago 
Press, 1941. Tallmadge mentions that Patti sang "Home 
Sweet Home" at the dedication of the Auditorium. That 
Clarence Eddy played the organ is stated in Marquis' 
Handbook of Chicago, A Complete History, Reference 

312 Dmiel Hale Williams 

PAGE Book and Guide to the City, A. N. Marquis & Co., 3d ed., 

60 1887. Dr. Bert Anderson said Traviata accompanied Patti 
(Com.) on several occasions. 

Who's Who in Colored America, 1927, and Dr. Bert 
Anderson gave data about George Anderson. He was grad- 
uated from the Chicago College of Dental Surgery in 1892, 
at the age of thirty-seven, and did not marry until he was 
fifty-three. His wife was the former Ella M. Murphy. He 
practiced forty years in St. Louis and served as president 
of the Mound City Dental Society. He died in 1938 at the 
age of seventy-two. 

Theodora Lee Purnell herself told me of Dr. Dan's gift 
and her reaction to it. 

6 1 James Gordon told anecdotes of Dr. Dan's friendliness 
and popularity, as did Harriett Curtis Hall. "Widow Barr," 
mother of Elmer Barr and sister of Julia Barr (Mrs. 
Louis B.) Anderson, was one he advised as to her in- 

Dr. Dan's ownership of real estate at this time was re- 
counted by Marie Hudlin whose mother rented an apart- 
ment in one of the two red brick buildings he owned in 
the 2900 block on Armour Avenue, See also the Rogers- 
Webb article, op. cit. 

62 The late Louis B. Anderson told me how Dr. Dan at- 
tended all the churches and James Gordon mentioned the 
five-dollar bill at Old Bethel. Mrs. James R. White told 
of his attending All Souls. The church, however, has no 
record of membership. 

Louis B. Anderson also told me of Dr. Dan's member- 
ship in the Hamilton Club, as did others. The fact is also 
mentioned in Watson, op. cit. 

Dr. Dan's appointment to the Illinois State Board of 
Health and dates of his tenure are shown in the Execu- 
tive Register of the Governor and are quoted in a letter 
from Margaret C. Norton, Archivist. 

Work of the Board of Health during Dr. Dan's tenure 
is taken from the Annual Reports of the Board, and from 


PAGE The Medical Journal and Examiner, December 1888, arti- 

62 cle by EL A. Johnson, "The Influence of the Work of the 
(Cont.) Illinois Medical Practice Act upon Medical Education." 

63 Historical aspects of disease in Illinois and methods used 
against it are discussed in The Rise and Fall of Disease in 
Illinois, Isaac D. Rawlings, M.S., M.D., in collaboration 
with William A. Evans, M.D., D.P.H., Gottfried Koehler, 
M.D., and Baxter K. Richardson, A.B., Vols. I and II, pub- 
lished by the State Department of Public Health, 1927. 

A list of health measures passed by the Illinois General 
Assembly during the years 1889-1893 was given me in a 
communication from Edward J. Barrett, Secretary of State 
and State Librarian. 


First Interracial Hospital, 1891 

66 James Gordon, only surviving member of the original 

committee, told me the story of the founding of Provident 
Hospital, gave me the names of those connected with the 
task, and incidents related to it. The published annual re- 
ports of Provident Hospital for 1891-1915 were also used. 

The history of trained nursing in Chicago is drawn 
from: Chicago Medical Society, History of Medicine, etc., 
op. cit.; A History of Nursing, Deborah MacLurg Jensen, 
R.N., M.A., St. Louis, 1943; A History of Nursing, 
M. Adelaid Nutting and Lavinia L. Dock, 2 vols., New 
York, 1907; A History of Nursing From the Earliest Times 
to the Present Day with Special Reference to the Work of 
the Last Thirty Years, Nutting and Dock, 4 vols., New 
York and London, 19123 Mercy Hospital Annual Report, 
op. cit. 

A few pupils of the Illinois Training School for Nurses 
had been admitted to Cook County Hospital wards while 
Dr. Dan was in Chicago Medical College, l?ut it was three 
years after his graduation before the Illinois Training 
School had adopted modern graded instruction. Mercy 
Hospital had had no trained nurses when Frank Pernber and 
Dan had cared for the obstetrical wards and did not ven- 

Darnel Hale Williams 

PAGE ture upon training them until 1889; the institution did not 

66 yet have its state charter in December 1890. St. Luke's had 
(Cent.) started nurses' training two years before Mercy, and 

Wesley had only begun this very year (1890). 

See Dailey, op. cit., for statement that Dr. Dan first had 
the idea of a hospital "four or five years after graduation," 
which would be three or four years before Provident was 
organized. Dr. Dan's own speech at Nashville (Publica- 
tions No, 8) states: "Years before I was able to interest the 
people of Chicago in a hospital . . ." 

67 Difficulties of securing hospital staff appointments are 
recounted in a manuscript copy of Dr. William Morgan's 
speech at the opening of Mercy Hospital Clinic, furnished 
me by Dr. Coleman G. Buf ord. 

68 Account of Negro enterprise in Chicago at this time is 
from Drake and Cayton, op. cit., and Harris, op. cit. 

69 Lloyd Wheeler's niece, Mrs. James R. White, told of 
the marriage of her uncle to Raynie Petit. His role in race 
work is spoken of in Harris, op. cit. 

Political data about Marshall, Denison, Theodore Jones, 
John G. Jones and Morris are found in Negro Politicians: 
The Rise of Negro Politics in Chicago, Harold F. Gosnell, 
Chicago, 1935. 

70 The modest start of Chicago hospitals is given in Chi- 
cago Medical Society, History of Medicine, etc., op. cit. 

Christine Shoecraft Smith told of meetings held in the 
flat of her aunt, Mrs. J. C. Plummer. 

71 Indignation Jones's remark is quoted from Moxcey, 
op. cit. 

7* John M. Mallet, who attended one of the early mass 

meetings, told of Edward H. Morris's resistance because 
of his real estate interests and the late Robert L. Taylor 
confirmed the fact. 




7 2 






Dr. Dan's remarks about foreigners caring for their sick 
is from his Nashville speech. Publications No. 8. 

Contributions are cited in the first Annual Report of 
Provident Hospital. 

A photostatic copy of the articles of incorporation was 
furnished me by the Secretary of State of Illinois. 

The incident of the old preacher's curse is mentioned in 
Dr. Dan's Nashville speech (Publications No. 8). His 
name is given in a radioscript (undated) prepared by 
H. L. Fishel, which I saw in Dr. Dailey's files. 

Lillie Smith Alexander told of the decorations and 
booths at the opening party. James Gordon gave the other 

The two elderly ladies treated by J. M. Johnson were 
Mrs. Nellie Grant and Mrs. Georgie Anne Davis. 

Jesse Binga told me of his own contributions. The An- 
nual Reports give the rest. 

The interest of these doctors was more than perfunc- 
tory. Isham and Billings each came twice that first year to 
lecture to the student nurses, while Jaggard and Starkey 
carne four times each. 

James R. White, an early Provident doctor, told me of 
the qualifications of Bentley and Wesley, which are con- 
firmed in Who's Who in Colored America, Vol. I, 1927. 

That Dr. Dan thought well of young Curtis was told me 
by his sister, Harriett Curtis Hall, who related also how 
the men scrubbed the operating room. 

The late Mrs. George C Hall told me her husband got 
his start in the red light district. Dr. James R. White said 
this was one reason Hall was not acceptable on the staff, 
but the main reason was his inferior schooling; this was 
also said by the late James Hale Porter. Porter sym- 
pathized with Hall. 

3 1 6 Daniel Hale Williams 

PAGE Miss Marion Hull was principal of the training school 

77 for nurses for the first year and, according to the Trus- 

(Cont.) tees' Report, "deserves much praise for efficient work." 
The student nurses too came in for praise. Their names 
were Emma A. Reynolds, Lillian E. Haywood, Florence 
Phillips, Bertha I. Estes, Ada L. Jones, Luella E. Roberson 
and Lillie M. Davis. Not all seven were graduated at the 
end of eighteen months, though they may have been grad- 
uated later. In his Nashville speech, Dr. Dan says: "Only 
seven years ago, Provident sent out its first class 'of three 
graduate nurses." The Third Annual Report of Provident 
says: "As the term of study in the Training School is 
eighteen months, there have been but two graduating 
classes, the first consisting of four, and the last of six 
nurses. There are now seven pupil nurses . . ." 

79 Data about the Ball was found in an invitation and a 
clipping from The Appeal, February 27, 1892, both in 


Prevalence of accident cases from the stockyards was 
related by Dr. Isabella Garnett Butler. 

Material on Robinson is drawn from an article by Vic- 
tor Robinson, M.D., in The American Journal of Clinical 
Medicine, Vol. 29, No. 4, April 1922; also from A Group 
of Distinguished Physicians and Surgeons of Chicago, 
F. M. Sperry, compiler, Chicago, 1904, and The Medical 
Fortnightly, St. Louis, Vol. XXXVI, No. i, July 10, 1909, 
article by T. G. Atkinson. 

Dr. H. W. Cheney told of Dr. Dan's taking the post- 
graduate bacteriology course. 

Dr. Dan's study with Robinson is mentioned in his pa- 
per; see Publications No i. 

80 The story of the South Side Medico-Social Society is 
told in Martin, op. cit. 

The development of the treatment for appendicitis is 
drawn from the following: The Cyclopedia of Medicine, 
Surgery and Specialties, George M. Piersol, editor in chief, 


PAGE Vol. I, id ed., 1939, article on Appendicitis by J. Mont- 

80 gomery Deaver, M.D.; /. B. Murphy, Stormy Petrel of 
(Cont.) Surgery, Loyal Davis, M.D., M.S., Ph.D., New York, 1938; 

The Doctors Mayo, Helen B. Clapesattle, Minneapolis, 
1941; Western Medical Reporter, A Monthly Epitome of 
Medical Progress, Vol. XI, Chicago, 1889, for Proceedings 
of the Chicago Medical Society, November 4, 1889, paper 
by J. B. Murphy on "Early Treatment of Perityphlitis." 

8 1 Fenger's article and his remarks appear in the same jour- 
nals in which Dr. Dan's article appears. 

82 Dr. Dan's work on the Sanitary Board for the World's 
Fair is mentioned in the article by Rogers- Webb, op. cit. 

Zellie Ridgley Bennett told me of her visit with Dr. 
Dan's sisters to the Fair. James Gordon told of the visit of 
Frederick Douglass. 

Various evidences of kinship between Dr. Dan and 
Frederick Douglass exist. Dr. Dan's nephew, the late 
Raphael D. Williams, told me his grandmother, Dr. Dan's 
mother, called Douglass "cousin." According to Alice 
Thornton Butler, Douglass referred to her and her sisters 
as "my little kinsfolk" and took them in his arms when 
their mother Mazie Price Thornton, a cousin of Dr. Dan 
and a granddaughter of Ann Wilks Price, took them up 
to the platform after one of Douglass's famous speeches. 
Mrs. Butler told me Douglass visited often in the home of 
Ann's daughter-in-law in Harrisburg and on one occasion 
took one of the children, Jennie, home with him and 
planned to adopt her, but Jennie grew homesick in Roch- 
ester and returned to her mother. Ann Wilks Price, Dr. 
Dan's grandmother, was born a slave, according to her 
great-granddaughter, Blanche Thornton Parnall, and was 
bought and freed by Henry Price, her husband. Sarah 
Jennings, a great-granddaughter of Peter Shorter, kin of 
Smith Price and Henry Price, states that the Prices 
"bought their wives on the Eastern Shore," which was the 
birthplace of Frederick Douglass. When Douglass, who 
had Indian as well as white and African blood, published 
his memoirs (Life and Times of Frederick Douglass, Writ- 

318 Daniel Hale Williams 

PAGE ten by Himself, new revised ed., De Wolfe, Fiske & Co., 

82 Boston, 1892, pp. 70-71) he related, among other aneo 
(Cont.) dotes of the 7ooo~acre Lloyd plantation where he was born, 

the story of William Wilks. Wilks was supposedly the il- 
legitimate son of Colonel Lloyd by a favored slave woman. 
He looked so much like Murray Lloyd, the Colonel's legit- 
imate son, and enjoyed so many favors that Murray con- 
nived until Wilks, who had first been given a gold watch 
and chain, was sent off to be sold at the auction block in 
Baltimore. There, to everyone's surprise, Wilks outbid all 
would-be purchasers and bought his own freedom. At the 
time it was supposed, says Douglass, that the hand that had 
presented the gold watch and chain had also provided the 
purchase money, but Douglass goes on to say that he later 
learned that Wilks had many friends in Baltimore and 
Annapolis who had united to save him. It now appears that 
these "many friends" were one man, Ann Wilks's husband, 
Dr. Dan's grandfather. On March 14, 1832, Henry Price 
manumitted a mulatto by the name of William "Wilkes," 
aged about forty, of "bright" complexion, raised on the 
Eastern Shore of Maryland. All details fit in with Doug- 
lass's anecdote. Undoubtedly Henry Price bought and set 
free William Wilks because he was a close relative of his 
wife. Undoubtedly, too, William and Ann Wilks were 
relatives of Frederick Douglass and perhaps through their 
white blood, rather than their Indian or African blood. 

An account of Douglass's speech at the Fair may be 
read in the Chicago Tribune for August 26, 1893. 

83 Dr. Isabella Garnett Butler and Jessie Sleet Scales told 
me of their training at Provident. Blanche Williams Stubbs 
said her sister, Mabel Williams, trained there too. 

Other Provident nurses in the early classes more than 
fulfilled the dreams of Dr. Dan. Emma Reynolds, the occa- 
sion for the founding of Provident Hospital, went on and 
on and finally became an M.D. and practiced in New Or- 
leans. Isabella Garnett became an M.D. too and with her 
husband Dr. Butler established a community hospital for 
the colored people of Evanston. Annie Schultz was another 
to become an M.D. All these were members of the very 
first classes, started on their way by Dr. Dan's vigorous 


PAGE Hattie Curtis Hall told of bringing the lunch basket 

84 when she was a little girl. 

The late Louis B. Anderson told me of Judge Barnes's 
influence in winning the support of George H. Webster. 


"Sewed Up His Heart!" 

85 Date and details of the heart operation are taken from 
Dr. Dan's official report. See Publications No. 4. 

86 Authorities consulted concerning the operative history 
of the heart and modern procedures include: American 
Journal of Medical Sciences, January 1883, quoting from 
Journal de Medecine de Paris, October 28, 1882; Chicago 
Medical Journal and Examiner, Vol. 46, January-June 
1883: "Heart Puncture and Heart Sutures as Therapeutic 
Procedures," John B. Roberts, M.D.; Surgery, C. W. 
Mansell Mollin, F.R.C.S., ist ed., 1891; The International 
Journal of Surgery, August 1893; Annual of the Universal 
Medical Sciences and Analytical Index: A Report of the 
Progress of the General Sanitary Sciences throughout the 
World, ed. Charles E. Sajous, M.D., Paris, and others, Vol. 
Ill, 1896, article of J. McFadden Gaston, M.D., on "Tho- 
racic Surgery"; British Medical Journal, 1896, Vol. II, 
pp. i, 440, Turner; American Year Book of Medicine and 
Surgery, George M. Gould, ed., Philadelphia, 1896, 1897, 
1898; Lancet, London, 1897, Vol. I, pp. 1305-1306, also 
Vol. 198, 1920, pp. i, 73, 134, "The Surgery of the Heart," 
Sir Charles Ballance, speech before the Royal Chirurgical 
Society of England, December n, 1919, reprinted in three 
installments; Medical Record: A Weekly Journal of Medi- 
cine and Surgery, ed. George F. Shrady, A.M., M.D., New 
York, 1897, Vol. 51, No. i, Whole No. 1365, pp. 304, 790; 
Philadelphia Medical Journal, 1900, Vol. V, pp. 11770., 
"Wounds of the Heart with a report of seventeen cases of 
suture," L. L. Hill, and May 3, 1902, article by Nieterl; 
Medical News, Vol. LXXIX, No. 23, December 7, 1901, 
p. 88 1, article by George Tully Vaughan, M.D.; A Manual 
of Modern Surgery, John Chalmers DaCosta, 1896, 2d ed., 

320 Daniel Hale Williams 

PAGE 1898, also his Modern Surgery, 4th ed., 1903; Journal of 

86 the American Medical Association, Vol. LII, No. 6, Feb- 

(Cont.) ruary 6, 1909, p. 429; article by George Tully Vaughan, 
M.D., "Suture of Wounds of the Heart"; Benjamin Merrill 
Ricketts, M.D., F.A.C.S.; Surgery of the Heart and Lungs, 
1904, Surgery of the Thorax and Its Viscera, Cincinnati, 
1918, also numerous articles in periodicals (Ricketts's ap- 
pearance at the International Society of Surgery is men- 
tioned in programs in his personal scrapbook now in pos- 
session of the Library of the Academy of Medicine, New 
York City, his appearance before the Western Surgical 
Association is reported in the Journal of the National Med- 
ical Association, Vol. 4, No. i, January-March, 1912); The 
Archives of Surgery, Vol. XI, 1925, "The Significance of 
the Pericardium in Relation to Surgery of the Heart," 
Claude S. Beck, M.D., and Richmond L. Moore, M.D.; 
Annals of Medical History, Vol. VIII, 1926, "The Opera- 
tive Story of the Heart," Claude S. Beck, M.D., pp. 224- 
233; Thoracic Surgery, Ferdinand Sauerbruch and Law- 
rence O'Shaughnessy, 1937. 

88 Dr. Coleman Buford told me of Morgan's receiving an 

invitation from Dr. Dan to attend the operation, and of 
his own presence and reaction. Names of other doctors 
present are taken from Dr. Dan's official report. The 
presence of Mabel Williams as surgical nurse was told by 
her sister, Blanche Williams Stubbs. 

The list of modern equipment lacking in Dr. Dan's day 
was given me by the late Dr. Carl G. Roberts. 

92 The newspaper account of the heart operation is in the 
Chicago Daily Inter-Ocean, July 22, 1893. 

93 Dr. Dan's postoperative study of the case with his stu- 
dents was recounted by Dr. J. W. McDowell, who said he 
helped abstract Dr. Dan's notes for the published report. 
It may have been McDowell who studied the Index Medi- 
cus. Examination of the Index Medicus for the years 1887- 
1899 reveals the change in editorship, the frequent lengthy 
delays in publication, and the inconsistent, garbled state 
of the indexing. 


PAGE The article in the Cyclopedia of Medicine, Surgery and 

93 Specialties is by Arthur M. Shipley, 2d ed. rev., Vol. 3, 
(Com.) 1944, Philadelphia. 

94 Record of the case of Dalton's patient, Eugene Lud- 
ringer, was given me by the Medical Director of the 
St. Louis City Hospital. It was not possible to discover 
what happened to him after his discharge from the hospital 
or how long he lived. 

For accounts of Dalton's operation, see "Proceedings of 
the Mississippi. Valley Medical Association Meeting at Hot 
Springs, Arkansas, November 23, 1894; Transactions of 
the Medical Association of the State of Missouri at its 37th 
Annual Session, Lebanon, Missouri, May 15, 1894; The 
St. Louis Medical and Surgical Journal, Vol. LXVIII, 
January-June 1895; Annals of Surgery, February 1895, 
Vol. XXI, January-June 1895, p. 147. 

Ricketts, in his voluminous but poorly arranged and 
badly edited Surgery of the Heart and Lungs, 1904, in- 
cluded, besides the cases of Dr. Dan and Dalton, the fol- 
lowing which antedates both: 

"Reed R. Harvey, during the year 1887, had a case of 
stab wound in the left chest over the apex of the heart. He 
removed a section of the sixth rib and the clots in the 
pericardial sac and sutured the pericardium and cutaneous 
structures. The patient is acting as a policeman in Shelby, 
Ohio. (Personal communication)." 

I assume that Ricketts is here referring to Robert Harvey 
Reed, sanitary pioneer of Ohio, who led an active profes- 
sional life from the time he acquired his M.D. in 1874 unt il 
his death in 1907, and wrote and published voluminously. 
If he had performed so important an operation it seems he 
would surely have included it in his many publications; if 
he did, I could not find it. Ricketts, who quotes this case, 
in later editions dropped it along with Dalton's, and not 
once but again and again gives the credit for priority to 
Dr. Dan. In medical articles too numerous to mention and 
in speeches all over the country, for over a decade, he re- 
peatedly said what he stated in his Surgery of the Thorax 
and Its Viscera, 1918, that "cardiorrhaphy was first done in 
1893 by Williams, a Negro physician of Chicago, and the 
patient recovered." Ricketts was a charter member of the 
American College of Surgeons along with Dr. Dan. 

322 Daniel Hale Williams 

PAGE In October 1892, the Chicago Clinical Review, Vol. I, 

94 No. i, under the editorship of George H. Cleveland, M.D., 

(Com.) and Albert I. Bouffleur, M.D., published an article by 
Bouffler concerning his case of April 18, 1891. He stated 
that when confronted by a stab wound of the abdomen 
that had penetrated upward and punctured the diaphragm, 
he had taken one stitch in the diaphragm which at that 
point coincided with the pericardial wall. He had thus 
stopped a serious hemorrhage and saved his patient's life. 
Bouffleur's operation was a transabdominal one, not tho- 
racic, and he was not confronted with the problems of en- 
trance into the thorax. 

Argument as to priority has not usually been between 
claimants for Dalton versus Dr. Dan, but between claim- 
ants for Dr. Dan versus various European operators. Un- 
fortunately neither Dalton's nor Dr. Dan's daring and suc- 
cessful operations were reported at the nth International 
Medical Congress in Rome in 1895, as far as I could find. 
There Del Vecchio showed the healed wounds in the 
hearts of dogs following suture and this gave new impetus 
to European surgeons. Within a year three attempts were 
made on humans. Cappelen of Christiania essayed to suture 
a left ventricle on September 4, 1895, but in operating 
accidentally cut a branch of the coronary artery, probably 
with the needle. Two and a half days later his patient 
died, with the presence of pericarditis and various bacteria 
in the exudate. In March 1896, Farina of Rome again 
essayed to suture a case and again his patient died within 
a few days. On September 9, 1896, Rehn of Frankfort took 
three sutures in the right ventricle. He did not suture the 
pericardium but packed it with gauze and left in drains. 
Infection developed and, while his patient eventually re- 
covered, it was only after prolonged illness. In 1897 Par- 
rozzani reported two cases: one, a suture of the left ventri- 
cle, recovered; the other, a suture of the right ventricle, 
died on the second day due to a cut in the mterventricular 

The complete reversal of the medical profession's nega- 
tivism in Dr. Dan's day was voiced at the 1914 meeting of 
the American Medical Association when Dr. Axel Were- 
lius of Chicago said: "No injury of the heart, no matter 
how violent, should be considered hopeless." I have been 
particularly happy to note the following headline in the 


PAGE Ne<w York Times, November 26, 1946: "GIRL, 5, DOOMED 



95 George Albert Cotton has been declared several times 

to be Dr. Dan's first heart case. His name of course does 
not agree with Dr. Dan's official report. I interviewed Cot- 
ton. His account indicated he was operated on in the sec- 
ond building occupied by Provident Hospital. He spoke 
persistently of the elevator; there was no elevator in the 
three-story flat building occupied 1891-1895 where the 
first operation was performed in July 1893. Cotton did not 
know the date of his operation nor even his own age. His 
brother, Henry Cotton, engineer at Provident for a num- 
ber of years, told the late Dr. Roberts that he (Henry) was 
born in 1869 an d his brother Albert more than two years 
later, that the family moved to Chicago in the year of the 
Fair, 1893, that he (Henry) went to the Dakotas two or 
more years later, and that the operation was performed 
on Albert while Henry was living in the Dakotas. There- 
fore, undoubtedly Dr, Dan operated on Cotton after his 
return to Chicago from Washington in 1898. 

For Dr. Dan's later operations on the chest, see Publica- 
tions No. 12. 

Fuller's operation is reported in the Journal of Surgery, 
Gynecology, and Obstetrics, 1916, Vol. XXII, p. 747, "Sur- 
gical Repair of a Stab Wound of the Pericardium." 

That operations on the heart are still hazardous was 
stated by Dr. N. C. Gilbert, Professor of Medicine and 
Chairman of the Department of Medicine, Northwestern 
University Medical Department, and Senior Attending 
Physician at St. Luke's Hospital, Chicago. Dr. Gilbert at- 
tended both Dr. Dan and his wife. 

Statistics on heart operations were given by Dr. Myra 

The incident of Cornish's return was related by the 
nurse, Jessie Sleet Scales, who was present. 

324 Daniel Hale Williams 


A National Task 


97 As Republican Postmaster General ten years before, 

Gresham had driven the Louisiana Lottery from the mails. 
He was himself spoken of as presidential timber, but his 
convictions against the protective tariff had led him to 
abandon his leadership of the Republican Party and throw 
his support to Cleveland. He was a great prize for the 
Democrats and for that reason was wanted in the Cabinet. 
See Dictionary of American "Biography, Vol. VII, 1931. 

Gresham's suggestion that Dr. Dan apply is recounted 
by Dr. Dan at a committee hearing, see Senate Document 
185, Vol. 8, 55th Congress, ist Session. 

See NA for the applications of Dr. Dan and others, their 
recommendations, correspondence and other data on Dr. 
Dan's injury and illness (Lillie Smith Alexander said ampu- 
tation was advised), the Annual Reports of Freedmen's 
Hospital from 1891-1898. 

In addition I drew on Howard University Catalogues 
for 1894, 1895, and 1896; and on Howard University Medi- 
cal Department: A Historical, Biographical and Statistical 
Souvenir , Daniel Smith Lamb, 1900; on House of Rep- 
resentatives Report No. 776, Part III, 55th Congress, 2nd 
Session; on Senate Document 185, op. cit.; on Black Re- 
construction, W. E. B. DuBois, New York, 1935, and other 
miscellaneous material in NA. Several photographs were 

Personal reminiscences of this period were furnished by 
Harriett Shadd Butcher, Zellie Ridgley Bennett, Rebecca 
West, the late Dr. William A. Warfield, Anna Evans Mur- 
ray, Mary Church Terrell, Dr. Henry W. Furniss, Dr. 
Duvall E. Colley, Dr. Daniel Smith, and the former nurses 
Katherine Gibson Brooks, Elizabeth Tyler Barringer, 
and the late Edith M. Carter. 

99 There had been a scattering of colored doctors in the 

country even before the American Revolution. Now a few 
were beginning to undertake surgery - Nathan F. Mossell 
in Philadelphia, Ferdinand A. Stewart and R. F. Boyd in 
Nashville, John E. Hunter in Lexington, Kentucky. You 


PAGE could count them on the fingers of one hand and all were 

99 neophytes; there was no one of a caliber to recommend 

(Com.) Dr. Dan. Some history of the Negro doctor in America 
may be gathered from: The Negro in Medicine, John A. 
Kenny, Tuskegee, 1912 (brochure); Who's Who in Phila- 
delphia: A Collection of Thirty Biographical Sketches of 
Colored People, Charles Frederick White, African Meth- 
odist Episcopal Book Concern, 1912; Negro Year Book, 
1912, Monroe N. Work, ed.; Journal of Negro His- 
tory, Vol. I, p. 104, "Historic Background of the Negro 
Physician, Kelley Miller," 1916; Southern Workman, Vol. 
63, pp. 140-142, May 1934, "The Negro Physician," H. A. 
CalHs; The Negro Professional Man and the Community, 
Carter G. Woodson, The Associated Publishers, Washing- 
ton, 1934; Negro Builders and Heroes, Benjamin Brawley, 
Chapel Hill, North Carolina, 1937; The Negro College 
Graduate, Charles S. Johnson, Chapel Hill, North Caro- 
lina, 1938; The Negro, Too, in American History, Merl R. 
Eppse, National Education Publishing Co., 1938. 

102 Traviata Anderson Bendey's illness was told me by her 

brother, Dr. Bert Anderson, and others, and is mentioned 
in the Rogers- Webb article, op. cit. 

104 For data on Jeremiah Rankin see Dictionary of Ameri- 
can Biography, Vol. XV, 1935. 

105 Description of Dr. Dan's quarters is from a photograph 
furnished by Dr. Dan's niece, Pearl Barbour Marchant. 

no The first four internes were J. Seth Hills, J. W. Mitchell, 

E. D. WilHston and William A. Warfield. These served 
in the autumn of 1894 and early winter of 1895. When Dr. 
Dan made his first Annual Report in July 1895, the internes 
then serving were Jackson B. Shephard, William A. War- 
field, James C. Erwin, Henry W. Furniss, and Charles I. 
West. Tenure was for one year. Dr. Dan made it clear 
that future applicants were to be chosen by competitive 
examination, the number depending upon the needs of the 

in A copy of Dr. Dan's circular letter soliciting enrollment 

of student nurses is found in BTW. 

326 Daniel Hale Williams 

PAGE The five dollars a month was not pay for services, Dr. 

112 Dan told the student nurses. As with the internes, the 

training given and the profession acquired were an ample 
equivalent, but this sum should enable any young woman 
without pecuniary resources, he said, to enter upon her 
professional career free from debt. 

116 Dr. Dan argued well enough on the virtues of the 
trained nurse, but he might have argued even better could 
he have peered only a few years into the future. Freed- 
man's first two classes alone sent trained graduate nurses 
to seven different states in the United States outside of the 
District of Columbia, one to Nicaragua and another to 
Canada. Within a half dozen years, graduates were ex- 
tending this training to others. Three graduates were su- 
perintendentsin Kansas City, Charlotte, and St. Louis. 
Four were head nurses in New York City, at Tuskegee, 
in Baltimore and in Washington, D.C. Three were school 
nurses at Clarke University, Atlanta; at Slater School, 
Winston, North Carolina; and at Edward Waters Uni- 
versity, Jacksonville. All over the country the stirring in- 
fluence of the new colored trained nurse was felt. By 1902 
Freedmen's no longer had to have a white superintendent; 
Sarah Fleetwood, graduate in the first class, came back to 
take over the job. 

117 Dr. Shadd's young daughter, Hattie, hated Dr. Dan how- 
ever. He gave her a framed quotation on Friendship; it 
was long and, worst of all, it was in Latin. And her father 
made her memorize every word of it. 


"Snatched from the Womb" 

118 The account of the operation on the dwarf is drawn 
from Dr. Dan's published report. See Publications No. n. 
The late Edith M. Carter, student nurse at the rime, added 
other details. 

119 The quotation concerning eclampsia is from Transac- 
tions of the Gynecological Society of Boston, 1891, Vol. 
1 6, p. in, and from Obstetrics, New York, 1900, Vol. 2, 
p. 92. 


PAGE The brief historical remarks on the Caesarean section 

119 are drawn from the Bulletin of the Society of Medical 
(Cont.) History of Chicago, Vol. IV, January 1935, No. 4, p. 414; 

"An Inquiry into the History of Caesarean Section," Ken- 
neth L. PickrelL 

120 Drs. U. G. Dailey and N. C. Gilbert both told me Dr. 
Dan observed Kelley's operations. Dr. Dan could watch 
Kelley operate because he was fair-skinned, and for the 
same reason he could take Warfield with him. A darker 
young man, named Kinniebrew, who wished to enroll at 
Johns Hopkins at this time, was refused and finally took a 
job as a janitor and picked up what information he could 
while dusting. (Letter from the late Dr. Carl Roberts.) 

The routine Dr. Dan followed in preparing his hands 
for the operation is taken from reminiscences of the late 
Dr. John A. Kenney, interne at Freedmen's soon after Dr. 
Dan left; see NMA Jnl, Vol. 33, No. 5, pp. 203-214, Sep- 
tember 1941. 

121 Dr. William S. Halsted of Johns Hopkins, in love with 
the head nurse whose hands suffered from immersion in 
the antiseptic solutions, saw the heavy rubber gloves 
brought from Germany by Dr. William H. Welch for 
autopsies, and had thin ones made for his nurse, later his 
wife. Assistants began to use the gloves too and finally 
surgeons did; from being a protection for the hands, these 
gloves became an aseptic protection for the patient. (A 
Surgeon's Life, Dr. J. M. T. Finney, 1940.) 

122 The German farmer's case of tumor is taken from an 
old clipping furnished by Dr. Dan's niece, Pearl Barbour 
Marchant, and from Dr. Dan's own report; see Publica- 
tions No. 7. 

The operation on young Daniel Murray was recounted 
by Dr. H. W. Furniss and confirmed by the lad's mother. 

123 The second Caesarean section, with the 1 8-pound tumor, 
is described from Dr. Dan's official report. See Publications 

No. ii. 

124 Dr. Dan's costume is from a photograph. 

328 Daniel Hale Williams 

PAGE The late Edith Carter, former student nurse, told of 

125 Dr. Dan's uncanny diagnostic ability. The modern damage 

suit is taken from the New York Times, April 25, 1947. 

Dr. Smith reported Dr. Dan's Caesarean operations at 
the meeting of March 9, 1898; see Transactions of the 
Medical Society of the District of Columbia, Vol. Ill, Janu- 
ary-December 1898, pp. 67-69. For Johnson's remark, see 
Transactions, Vol. I, March i896~January 1897, p. 61, 
meeting of April 22, 1896. Will Mayo had performed a 
similar successful operation in the fall of '95, though he 
had attempted the vaginal route first and had only per- 
formed a Caesarean section after his initial attack had 
failed. That same fall, John B. Murphy, in removing a 
fibroid tumor, found to his surprise that his patient was 
pregnant and had then to remove the uterus and foetus 
as well as the tumor. (For Mayo's case see The Doctors 
Mayo, H. B. Clapesattle, 1943, p. 302. For Murphy's case, 
see his paper "Fibromyoma Complicating Pregnancy; Fi- 
broma of Vaginal Wall," Transactions, Chicago Patho- 
logical Society, from December 1895 to April 1897, Vol. 
II, p. i.) There was no doubt that Dr. Dan stood, as Frank- 
lin Martin said, at the top of the medical profession, not 
only in Chicago, but in the nation abreast of the ablest 
and sometimes ahead of them. 

127 Dr. Dan's participation in the Medico-Chirurgical So- 

ciety is found in The First Negro Medical Society: A His- 
tory of the Medico-Chirurgical Society of the District of 
Columbia, 1884-1939, W. Montague Cobb, A.B., M.D., 
Ph.D., Washington, 1939. 

The early history of the NMA and Dr. Dan's role in it 
was told me by the late Dr. John A. Kenney. See also Ken- 
ney's brochure, The Negro in Medicine, Tuskegee, 1913, 
and Forty Cords of Wood, J. Edward Perry, M.D., Lin- 
coln University Press, 1947. The American Medical Asso- 
ciation had ruled that national membership should be de- 
pendent upon state membership, and many state societies 
tried to hold back the rise of colored doctors by excluding 
them from the benefits of membership. The idea for the 
national organization did not originate with Dr. Dan, but 


PAGE with I. Garland Penn, Negro Commissioner in charge of 

127 the Negro Exhibit at the Cotton States and International 
(Cont.) Exposition the same man who invited Booker Washing- 
ton to give the address that launched him upon natipnal 
political leadership of the race. The National Medical 
Association was formed in Atlanta in the closing days of 
the Exposition. Dr. R. F. Boyd of Nashville was the first 

128 Dr. Duvall E. Colley (the former student barber) and 
William E. Cobb told of the Sunday clinics. Mr. Cobb was 
an ardent attender and perhaps as a result educated his son 
to be a doctor. At this writing Dr. W. Montague Cobb, 
Ph.D., M.D., is editor of the Journal of the National Medi- 
cal Association. 

130 Use of a wash boiler for sterilizer is told in Kenney's 
article, NMA Jnl, Vol. 33, No. 5, pp. 213-214, September 


Dr. Dan's Job in Jeopardy 

131 Dr. Dan told of Douglass's remarks to him in his Nash- 
ville speech. See Publications No. 8. 

Date of Gresham's death is from the Chicago Tribune 
and the New York Times, May 28, 1895; Douglass's from 
the Dictionary of American Biography. 

132 Hoke Smith's resignation from the cabinet is told in the 
Dictionary of American Biography. 

The characterization of the presidential campaign of 
1896 is from The Rise of American Civilization, Charles 
and Mary Beard, new edition, New York, 1936. 

The Washington Bee throughout the winter and spring 
of 1897 commented continuously on the Freedmen's strug- 
gle, which may be traced in detail in NA. 

1 34 Dr. Henry Furniss, Kate Brooks Gibson, the late Caroline 

Parke, Katie Johnson, and Mrs. Clarence Evans furnished 
the social items, while the Reverend Shelton Hale Bishop 
told of Dr. Dan's visit to New York and Armonk. 

330 Daniel Hale Williams 

PAGE The Reverend C. M. C. Mason's story is told in Men of 

135 Maryland, Rev. Geo. F. Bragg, Jr., D.D., Baltimore, 1925. 

136 The Board of Medical Examiners of Maryland confirmed 
the fact Warfield failed to pass the Maryland examination. 

137 The hearing on Freedmen's Hospital is recorded in de- 
tail in Senate Document No. 185, op. cit. Contemporary 
issues of Harper's Weekly proved good sources for data 
on the committee members, while Harriet Shadd Butcher 
described Purvis and told Lynch's story. His political 
standing was described by Emmett J. Scott. 

142 According to Scott, the three important Negro political 

leaders at this time were Lynch, Senator Blanch K. Bruce, 
and James B. Mathews. Mathews had been associated with 
Dr. Dan's father in the early Negro conventions, and both 
he and Bruce were friends of Dr. Dan. Not so, Lynch. 

144 Dr. DuBois remembered the European trip of Dr. Dan 

and Dr. Bentley because both men married shortly after 
and people teased them for stingily taking honeymoons 
sans the brides. Katie Johnson remembered the trip too. 
Attempts to discover the exact dates or the itinerary were 
unsuccessful. Passports were not required at that time to 
Western Europe and the State Department has no record 
of issuing Dr. Dan a passport to Russia, which was re- 
quired, and examination of the Proceedings of the Twelfth 
Medical Congress held in Moscow August 7 (19) -14 (26), 

1897, failed to reveal the presence of Dr. Dan. Nor could 
any record of a leave of absence from Freedmen's be 
found, but a reference to his return in June appears in a 
statement of Warfield to the Board of Visitors, June 27, 

1898. A niece, Ada Blanche Williams, thinks he went to 
give some addresses; and since his official report on his 
famous heart operation had come out in March and was 
causing a stir this may have been the case, but details are 


Alice Johnson 

i47 Bertie Brooks Lewis told of the children's admiration 

of Miss Alice, and Dr. Ralph Stewart gave her ad- 


PAGE dress in Southwest Washington; it was confirmed by 

147 Garnet C. Wilkinson, First Assistant Superintendent of 
(Cont.) Schools. 

The following persons contributed data to the story of 
Isabella and Alice Johnson; Bertie Brooks Lewis, Rebecca 
West, the late Caroline Parke, Anna Evans Murray, Sarah 
Fleetwood, Nancy Atwood, Mrs. Clarence C. Evans, 
Charlotte Bishop Ridgley, Zellie Ridgley Bennett, Dr. 
Henry Furniss, Mrs. Dwight Holmes and the late Sarah 
Meriwether Nutter. Christine Shoecraft Smith and the late 
Caroline Parke told me Alice's father was Jewish. Mrs. 
Daniel Murray, one of Alice's closest friends, gave his name 
and profession. The facts of his life and background are 
from the following: The History of the Jews in Richmond 
from 1769 to 1917, Herbert T. Ezekiel and Gaston Lichten- 
stein, 1917; The Recollections of a Virginia Newspaper 
Man, Herbert T. Ezekiel, 1920; American Jewish Histori- 
cal Society Papers, Vol. 9, p. 161; Jewish Encyclopedia, 
Vol. V, p. 319; Sir Moses Ezekiel: An American Sculptor, 
Henry K. Bush-Brown, in Art and Archaeology, Vol. XI, 
No. 6, June 1912, pp. 2275.; American Art and American 
Art Collections, 1889, Vol. II, pp. 803-808; Art and Archae- 
ology, May 1917, article by Mrs. Lawrence Turnbull; New 
York Times, November 22, 1908, October 21, 1921; Amer- 
ican Art News, March 31, 1917; Belles, Beaux and Brains 
of the '6os, T. C. DeLeon, 1909. 

148 According to the U. S. Census taken in Richmond 
July 14, 1860, Alice was ten months old; her mother, Isa- 
bella, was twenty-three. They were living with Jane 
Johnson, fifty, presumably the grandmother, in a dwelling 
occupied by six other families one white, four black, and 
one other mulatto like themselves. Jane too was mulatto 
and both Jane and Isabella are listed as "washwoman." 
While Isabella could read and write, Jane could not. If 
Isabella's age is correct as given, she was seven years older 
than Moses Ezekiel, who was then about three months 
short of sixteen. Twenty-three may not be correct for 
Isabella, since an illiterate mother might not have kept ac- 
curate count during her child's earliest years. On the other 
hand, Moses had had the status of a man almost four years, 
having worked as a bookkeeper in his grandfather's store 
since he was twelve. In the mores of the South at that 

32 Daniel Hale Williams 

AGE time, a lad's sex experiences, especially with a girl of black 

48 or mixed blood, could begin early. 

Alice Johnson's mother must have been as beautiful as 
her daughter. Several mentioned her loveliness. Rebecca 
West spoke of her as slight, dainty, a lady with a sweet 
voice; the late Caroline Parke said she looked "Spanish"; 
Bertie Brooks Lewis said she had "a face like a cameo." 

49 Alice Johnson's age, birthplace, residence while attending 
Howard University, her school record and her release from 
school "to go to England" are recorded at Howard Uni- 

:5O Garnet C. Wilkinson, First Assistant Superintendent of 

Schools, Washington, D.C., stated Alice Johnson was first 
appointed to teach at Mott School on October 9, 1877, and 
was last appointed for the school year 1897-1898. 

[52 Alice Parke Shadd's genealogy was told me by her 

daughter, Harriet Shadd Butcher. 

Details concerning Mott School are from the Commis- 
sioner's reports of the period. 

[53 Clarence Cameron White told me the Remenyi incident. 

[55 The poem "To Dan" is found in The Complete 'Poems 

of Paul Laurence Dunbar, edited by W. D. Howells, New- 
York, Dodd, Mead and Company, copyright 1905. It was 
called to my attention by Louise V. Mingo, who used to 
recite it. 

[56 Description of the welcoming reception is from JNA. 

157 I visited the house at 3301 Forest Avenue (Giles Ave- 

nue), also later residences of Dr. Dan and Alice on Forest 
Avenue and Forty-second Street. 



:59 The report of the Joint Select Committee was ordered 

to be printed March 22, 1898. It forms House of Repre- 


PAGE sentatives Report No. 776, 55th Congress, 26. Session. The 

159 report of the Board of Visitors is dated June 24, 1898, but 

(Cont.) the Evening Star of June 28, 1898, says the report was sub- 
mitted to the Secretary of the Interior "today." The Sen- 
ate resolution, the Secretary's reply, and text of the Visi- 
tors' report, etc., are taken from Senate Document No. 332, 
55th Congress, 2d Session. 

For years there had been plain evidence that procedures 
for the administration of Freedmen's Hospital were loose. 
Four years before Dr. Dan's advent on the scene, an in- 
vestigating committee from the Interior Department had 
declared "the surgeon in chief is emphatically an autocrat 
with over $50,000 public moneys annually at his disposal 
without any checks, balances or accountability." No cor- 
rection of the situation had been made, either by Congress 
or the Department of the Interior. Freedmen's, k seemed, 
was always being investigated and nothing done about it. 
During Dr. Dan's regime and despite a change of the party 
in power, the situation continued unaltered. Appalling 
ignorance existed in the Interior Department of what was 
going on in the hospital. Almost two years before he re- 
signed, an official of that office wrote Dr. Dan and asked 
him whether or not a Board of Visitors set up by the In- 
terior Department five years before he took office was 
functioning. "Having heard doubts expressed," wrote the 
official, "whether the Board was actually in existence, I 
wish you would write me concerning what action it has 
taken, especially lately." In other words, the Interior Office 
asked its own appointee whether or not it was supervising 
him in accordance with its own established procedures. 
And then, once more, the matter was dropped and for- 

162 That Warfield enjoyed special tutelage under Dr. Dan 

was told by Rebecca West, Dr. J. W. McDowell, and is 
cited by Warfield himself in an article by the late Dr. 
John A. Kenney, NMA Jnl, Vol. 33, No. 5, pp. 203-214, 
September 1941. 

Warfield is listed in the Illinois Register of Physicians for 
1898 at Dr. Dan's Chicago address. 

334 Daniel Hale Williams 

PAGE The sworn testimony of Warfield, Miss Ebersole and 

162 Cordoza is in NA. Also the stenographic report of Dr. 

(Com.) Dan's appearance with Judge Wilson before the Visitors, 
July 20, 1898. The report is certified as "correct" by the 
stenographer, but is not notarized and not signed by either 
Dr. Dan or Judge Wilson. Portions are jumbled and in- 

166 A memorandum of James H. Parker, secretary to Secre- 

tary of the Interior Garfield, in June 1908, NA, states Dr. 
Dan fainted at the hearing, but implies it was from a sense 
of guilt at being f ound u out. Parker had his own reasons for 
distorting the picture. See p. 244. 

171 The supplemental report of the Board of Visitors to the 
Secretary of the Interior, consists of fourteen typewritten 
pages, dated July n, obviously an error since the report 
states that Dr. Dan's testimony of July 20 is included, as 
well as the testimony of Warfield, Miss Ebersole and 
Cordoza. This report mentions the presentation of the 
Bausch & Lomb receipts by Dr. Dan but summarizes the 
various testimonies in a way unfair to Dr. Dan. No recom- 
mendations for disposal of the matter are made. 

McMillan's recommendation for District authority Is 
found in Senate Document No. 1439, 55th Congress, 3d 
Session, ordered to be printed December 21, 1898. 

172 Alice wrote to Sarah Fleetwood, her first schoolteacher, 
now a trained nurse and soon to be the Superintendent of 
Nurses at Freedmen's: "That cruel, malicious attack upon 
my dear husband's administration of the hospital failed in 
its object. Among my most cherished possessions are many 
letters from officials with whom my husband's duties 
brought him in contact, assuring him that the high opinion 
they held of him was in no way affected." 


Destroying Myths 

173 Dr. Charles Kahlke told of Chislett's moving out when 

Dr. Dan came back. 


PAGE Dr. Dan's neighbors included various important medical 

173 men. William Morgan was at 3100 Michigan Avenue, less 
(Cont.) than a block off. J. B. Murphy lived a few doors away, 

Lester E. Frankenthal had his office in the next block, and 
Otto L. Schmidt, Dr. Dan's former classmate, was in the 
one beyond. In the same building with Dr. Dan were 
F. O. Higbee, E. Stillman Bailey and Charles H. Kahlke. 

Appointments at Provident Hospital, committee, staff 
and Board, are taken from published reports of the 

174 James Gordon told me Clarence Darrow was a patient 
of Dr. Dan and in Clarence narrow for the Defense, 1941, 
Irving Stone tells of Darrow's and Wheeler's Sunday bi- 
cycle rides. 

The baseball games item is from JNA. 

Dr. and Mrs. James R. White told of Jenkin Lloyd 
Jones's continued support of Provident Hospital. 

Letters of Kohlsaat and Webster to Dr. Dan were found 
in his papers after his death; others from these men are in 


William F. Taylor, the druggist, told me of the cable 

Published reports of Provident Hospital state that gifts 
were as follows: Kohlsaat $5000 for the lot; Armour 
$20,000 for the building; Field $2500, Pullman $5000, and 
Young $500 for the adjoining properties for the nurses* 
home. Webster's $2500 apparently was for furnishings. 

175 Description of Dr. George C. Hall, his appearance, his 
personality and his actions was given me by Drs. James R. 
White, U. G. Dailey, the late Spencer Dickerson, and the 
late Carl G. Roberts, among others. Emmett Scott, the late 
T. Arnold Hill, Dr. Herbert Turner, Dr. J. W. McDowell 
added details. The late John Hale Porter, who admired 
Hall, told me of Hall's determination to get an allopathic 
diploma to secure his position. Others giving a favorable 

Daniel Hale Williams 

PAGE picture of Hall were Alexander L. Jackson, Dr. Homer C. 

175 Cooper, and Tomietta Stokes Beckham, but I felt their 
(Cont.) testimony was outweighed by that of others. Hall's educa- 
tional background is given in Mather, op. cit. He received 
his Illinois license in 1888. 

176 Dr. James R. White told the recruiting incident and of 
Dr. Dan's appointment as major. Washington colored 
newspapers also spoke of Dr. Dan's appointment as colonel. 
It has been impossible to verify either appointment from 

| War Department records. 

177 The^moster of Provident Hospital Internes gives the 
dates and names of all internes. 

Helen Brown (Mrs. James R.) White told of Hall's 
attempt to get White to leave Chicago. Dr. White told of 
Dr. Dan's encouragement of young doctors, as did others. 

David McGowan told of Dr. Dan's service to the Old 
Folks Home, and Louise V. Mingo told of his speech at the 
fund-raising meeting. The Broadax, August 12, 1899, gives 
the address 610 West Garfield, and says there are eleven 
rooms and thirteen inmates. 

178 Dr. Dan himself described the insurance scheme in a 
letter to Booker T. Washington (BTW). The Broadax, 
Vol. VI, No. 7, December 8, 1900, states Dr. Dan has taken 

1 80 Dr. Dan is incorrect in giving the figure 12 million. The 

Census for 1900 gave 8.8 million Negroes. 

For Dr. Dan's medical papers see Publications. 

184 Dr. Kahlke told me of his friendship with Dr. Dan. 

185 Col. Phalen told me of his reaction to Dr. Dan and to 
Murphy and Dr. Frank Van Kirk also. Col. Phalen is the 
author of the article on Dr. Dan in the Dictionary of Amer- 
ican Biography. 

186 Dr. James Milk, Jr., and his brother Wallace Mills told 
of visits of Dr. Dan to their home and kindly sent me their 


PAGE father's scrapbook containing many items about Chicago 

1 86 Medical College and Dr. Dan. 

(Cont.) In 1906 Dr. Dan and Mills were two of twelve who at- 

tended their class reunion, enjoying "intimate pipe smok- 
ing and reminiscence." In 1913 Dr. Dan was on the recep- 
tion committee for the reunion and banquet held at the 
Congress Hotel. 

Alice's remarks are in a letter to Sarah Fleetwood, Feb- 
uary 22, 1901. The trolley car incident was related by Mrs. 
J. Carlos Davis. 

187 Description of Alice's costume was given by Christine 
Shoecraft Smith, who told me of the loss of the baby, as 
did the late Mrs. William T. Child. It was a case of tubal 
pregnancy, according to John Mallet, chauffeur for Dr. 
Otto Schmidt, in whose car he heard the case discussed. 
Mallet said DeLee took care of Alice. 

1 88 Mrs. Brace's visit is in The Broadax, Vol. IV, August 12, 
1899; the talk at the Phillis Wheatley Club, same paper, 
Vol. V, No. 13, January 20, 1900. The clipping about the 
Evening with Shakespeare is from JNA. 

189 Dr. Hall himself told the late Dr. Carl Roberts he was 
left standing in the entry and resented it. 

That old friends noticed little change in Dr. Dan was 
apparent from conversation with the late Julia West Paul 
and Julia LeBeau Thompson, but Dr. U. G. Dailey gave a 
new picture, as stated here. 


Moses to Negro Medicine 

191 The late Dr. John A. Kenney in NMA Jnl, Vol. 33, 

No. 5, speaks of the brutal use of Negroes for experimental 
and teaching surgery. 

The statement that bad conditions in Negro medical care 
prevailed fifty years ago should not be construed to mean 
conditions are good today. See Medical Care and Plight of 
the Negro, W. Montague Cobb, M.D., PhD., published 

338 Daniel Hale Williams 

PAGE by the National Association for the Advancement of 

191 Colored People, August 1947. Also Dr. Cobb's article 

(Cont.) "Racial Integration in Medicine," published May 1953 in 

NAIRO Reporter., a publication of Intergroup Relations 

Officials, P.O. Box 163, New York 25, N.Y.; available also 

as a reprint from Committee for the Nation's Health, Inc., 

2212 M Street, N.W., Washington 7, D.C. Also the Negro 

Year Book 1952, Jessie P. Guzman, ed., "Health and Medi- 

cal Facilities," pp. 

192 Booker Washington's speech, made September 18, 1895, 

and reported widely in the press, pleased some whites 
and displeased some colored people for sentences like 
these: "As we have proven our loyalty to you in the past, 
in nursing your children, watching by the sickbed of your 
mothers and fathers, and often following them with tear 
dimmed eyes to their graves, so in the future in our hum- 
ble way, we shall stand by you with a devotion that no 
foreigner can approach, ready to lay down our lives if need 
be in defense of yours, interlacing our industrial, com- 
mercial, civil and religious life with yours in a way that 
shall make the interests of both races one. In all things that 
are purely social we can be as separate as the fingers, yet 
one as the hand in all things essential to mutual progress." 
The last sentence was quoted frequently. 

The long correspondence of Dr. Dan with Booker T. 
Washington and Emmett J. Scott is in BTW; a few letters 
are in NA; and one was photostated for me by the late 
Dr. Bertha Van Hoosen who had presented it to the Li- 
brary of the Woman's Medical College, Chicago. Dean 
Charles H. Thompson of Howard University Graduate 
School sent me copies of three letters. 

The late Dr. John A. Kenney, long on the Tuskegee 
staff, told me of early medical care at the Institute. 

In the spring of 1913 Tuskegee got the hospital and 
clinic center offered by Dr. Dan fifteen years before. 
George Hall was invited by Booker Washington to give 
the dedicatory address. 

194 Hubbard's visit to Dr. Dan is told in Meharry Medical 

College, A History, Charles Victor Roman, Nashville, 


PAGE J 934- That Boyd and Stewart were instrumental is shown 

194 in Irene M. Gaines's article, op. cit. Date of the appoint- 
(Cont.) ment is determined from a letter of Alice Williams to 

Sarah Fleetwood. 

The dedication inscription is carved over the entrance 
to Meharry College, which I visited. The history of Me- 
harry, its hospitals and clinics, is taken partly from Roman, 
op. cit., and partly from Annual Announcements and re- 
ports of Central Tennessee College, Walden University, 
and Meharry Medical College for the years 1885 to I 9 I 5- 

195 That Dr. Dan received only travel money and con- 
tributed that to the school was told me by Professor 
Emeritus John H. Holman. 

Dr. Dan's brilliance as a clinical instructor was told me 
by Drs. Buford, Roberts, Dailey, and many others. A letter 
from the late Dr. M. O. Bousfield says Dr. Dan "loved to 
teach and give them [his internes] a chance to learn and 
do. Surgeons are not always generous on this score." 

196 A sketch of Boyd's life is found in Kenney's brochure, 
op. cit. Dr. Dan's operations in the basement room are 
mentioned by Gaines, op. cit. 

Recollections of Dr. Dan's visits were given me by Tillie 
Lloyd, Registrar, Professor Emeritus John H. Holman, 
Drs. W. A. Reed, J. A. McMillan, and F. A. Stewart, Jr., 
and Annie Stewart, supplemented by letters from W. H. 
Compton and Drs. E. A. Kendall and G. Hamilton- 

197 The account of the meeting at the Phillis Wheatley Club 
is taken from Dr. Dan's speech. See Publications No. 8. 

203 Dr. Dan's travels for the benefit of Negro doctors were 
recounted to me by Drs. Dailey and Perry. Also see 
Dailey, op. cit., and Perry, op. cit. 

204 Warfield's charges against Curtis and West are found 


34 Daniel Hale Williams 

PAGE The Dallas incident was told me by Dr. J. Carlos Davis; 

205 the Indianapolis incident, by Drs. J. H. Ward and Law- 
rence A. Lewis. 

206 The guilty journal was The Medical Journal, Charlotte, 
North Carolina. The incident is told in detail by W. E. B. 
DuBois, "Possibilities of the Negro, the Advance Guard 
of the Race," The Booklovers Magazine, Vol. II, No. i, 
July 1903. 

For some of the results of hospital and nursing care, see 
the report of Hulda M. Lyttle, R.N., quoted in Roman, 
op. cit.; also The Health and Physique of the Negro 
American, W. E. B. DuBois, nth Atlantic Conference, 

The Negro Year Book 1952, Jessie P. Guzman, ed., 
records 132 Negro hospitals, but some are very small. Only 
45 have 50 beds or more. In 1949, 9000 Negro nurses were 
integrated into the American Nurses Association with a 
total membership of 506,050; in that year there were 3076 
Negro student nurses. The same volume estimates that in 
1948 there were 3753 Negro physicians in this country. 
This is not the number there should be and is indicative of 
the educational and economic restrictions still operating 
against colored people. There are 3681 Negro persons in 
the country per each Negro doctor, nearly five times the 
ratio of total population to total physicians. 

The late Dr. Kenney in NMA Jnl, Vol. 33, No. 5, gives 
a brief history of the rise and fall of Negro medical schools. 

History-Making Operations 

207 These cases and the remarks he made are described by 

Dr. Dan; see his Publications No. 12. 

212 Advice against operating on the spleen may be seen in 

John De J. Pemberton's article in The Cyclopedia of Medi- 
cine, Surgery and Specialties, rev. ed,, 1946. 


PAGE Dr. Dan was a careful student. He always related his 

213 own experience to that of others. Before writing his paper, 
he told his listeners, he had examined thirty-three Eng- 
lish and American surgical works. All of them advised 
against invasion of the chest. However, when he looked 
into the French and Italian writers on the subject, he 
found they urged immediate interference and their re- 
sults, he said, showed the wisdom of their course. He him- 
self had had twenty-six cases in eleven years and had 
operated on exactly half of them. All the thirteen not 
operated had died, while of the thirteen operated only two 
had died. So he sided with the French and Italian doctors. 

Mrs. J. B. Beckham (nee Tomietta Stokes) told me of 
the case of the Irish boy. She was a probationer nurse at 
the time and later became assistant to the Superintendent 
of Nurses. 

2 14 Dr. Dailey told of the Rhode Island brakeman. 

Accounts of Dr. Dan's services were given me by Mrs. 
Avendorph, Jessica and Archibald Anderson, Eloise Carey 
Bishop, Mrs. Richard Rainey, Mrs. William T. Child, 
Lillie Smith Alexander, Harry Branch, Dr. Marie Fellowes, 
Marguerite Leftlet Banks and her daughter, Helen Harris, 
and by Emma L. Warren-Mallet. 

Jesse Binga is authority for the Mitchell "Red Devil. " 

216 Mrs. Richard Rainey repeated to me Dr. Dan's remark 
he could not charge his people much. In a letter to Booker 
T. Washington (BTW) in 1907, Dr. Dan said his income 
was $10,000 a year. 

Both Dr. Dailey and Dr. Smith told me they came to 
Chicago to study because Dr. Dan was there. The reac- 
tions to the great man are Dailey's. 

217 Dr. Booker told me about the student parties. 

Dr. Fellowes told of her experience with Dr. Dan. Dr. 
James White told of Dr. Dan's advice and of Wilberforce's 
following it, while Dr. Roberts furnished details of Wil- 

342 Daniel Hale Williams 

PAGE berforce's later life. Dr. Dan's influence on McKissick was 

217 told me by Dr. Monroe A. Majors and confirmed by Dr. 

(Com.) Dailey. 

The late Dr. Kenney told me his story. Conditions un- 
der which he operated in the South are recounted in NMA 
Jnl, Vol. 33, No. 5. His Appreciation was published in 
The Student, July 20, 1907. His gift of the hospital to 
Newark is described in a brochure, The Community 
Hospital, A Brief History, 1939. 

219 Dr. Dailey told me of his relationship to Dr. Dan. Dr. 

McDowell and the late Dr. Roberts added comments. 

222 That Murphy wore out his assistants is stated in /. B. 

Murphy, Stormy Petrel of Surgery, Loyal Davis, M.D., 
M.S., Ph.D., New York, 1938. 


Alice Tries to Be a Good Wife 

223 Alice wrote Booker Washington about a Miss Kelley 

who had achieved a position at the Art Institute but who 
longed to use her talent for her race, and Miss Kelley was 
invited to come to Tuskegee as "instructress in drawing" 

Bishop Ransom told me of his pioneering work and of 
his relationship to Dr. Dan and AHce, and of Alice's work 
for him. 

BTW reveals Alice's attempts to get the Tuskegee prin- 
cipal to lecture, and other lecturers are found in a little 
brochure of the Settlement furnished me by Bishop Ran- 
som. It was the age of formality. Alice Williams began her 
letters to Booker Washington: "My dear Sir" and ended 
them primly "Mrs. Daniel H. Williams." Later she did 
unbend to say "My dear Mr. Washington." She referred 
to her husband as "Doctor." "Doctor is well," she wrote, 
"and sends warmest regards to you and Mrs. Washington." 

Mary Church Terrell told me of her lecture. Mary 
Church Terrell is a remarkable woman who has brought, 


PAGE said the late Carrie Chapman Catt, her friend and co- 

223 worker in the suffrage cause, honor to her college, her race, 
(Cont.) and her sex. After her graduation from Oberlin in 1884, 

Mrs. Terrell spent three years studying in France, Ger- 
many, Switzerland and Italy. When she spoke at the great 
Congress of the International Council of Women in Berlin 
in 1904, she was the only delegate from the United States 
who spoke in three languages and she was "eloquent in all 
three." In this country she has addressed students of most 
women's colleges and many men's colleges. She is a prolific 
writer whose work has appeared in many leading maga- 
zines and newspapers. At this writing (summer 1953) she is 
still active at ninety and is spearheading the movement to 
extend civil rights in Washington, D.C., restaurants. In 
1948 she won her long campaign to open the doors of the 
Washington branch of the American Association of Uni- 
versity Women to qualified members regardless of race or 

224 The quotation from Barrow's speech is from Irving 
Stone, op. cit. y p. 170. 

225 The Reverend Father Olds, of St. Augustine's Church, 
Washington, D.C., wrote me that church records show 
Sarah Price Williams died July 24, 1900, aged seventy-five, 
of paralysis. I use U. S. Census records and her sampler 
for her age, which was seventy-two. A newspaper clipping 
says Dr. Dan had to leave immediately after the funeral. 
A niece, Ada Blanche Williams, showed me the sampler, 
found in Dr. Dan's possessions after his death. 

Dr. Dailey said Alice called Dr. Dan "Hale." 

226 Emma George and Harriet George Stewart told me of 
the sisters' move to Pierce Place. 

Among those giving me these impressions of Alice were 
Mary Church Terrell, Edith Fleetwood, Estelle Arnold, 
Eloise Carey Bishop, Harriet Curtis Hall, Rebecca West, 
the late Julia West Paul, the Reverend Shelton Hale Bis- 
hop, Dr. J. W. McDowell, and Dr. Arthur J. Booker. 

The June 1904 reception is described in JNA. Emmett 
J. Scott related the event to the Republican National Con- 

344 Daniel Hale Williams 

PAGE Julia LeBeau Thompson said the Forest Avenue neigh- 

227 borhood deteriorated and Eloise Carey Bishop told of the 
moving away of her family and of the Williamses. The 
addresses on East 42nd Street appear on clippings in JNA 
and on Alice Williams's stationery (BTW). 

John Mallet told of the hate fence. 

The 1903 and 1907 items about Sir Moses are from De 
Leon, op. cit., and the 1908 item is from the New York 
Times, November 22, 1908. Christine Shoecraft Smith told 
me of the photograph, and Harriett Curtis Hall told of re- 
marks about Alice's parentage. 

Sir Moses died in Rome in March 1917. After the war his 
last statue, one of Edgar Allan Poe, was brought to Amer- 
ica and presented to the city of Baltimore, The sculptor's 
body was buried in Arlington Cemetery among his Con- 
federate comrades. 

228 Theodora Lee Purnell told me of Alice's exit from the 
Whist Club. 

Louise V. Mingo told of Alice's jealousy of Mrs. Carey, 
her feeling for Mrs. Wilberforce Williams, and of the 
luncheon party and the boat ride. 

As Alice again became a recluse from society, she kept 
up with certain people. She exchanged the latest books 
with Julia LeBeau Thompson, upon whose mother Dr. 
Dan .had operated on the dining room table at the be- 
ginning of his career. She did embroidery with Mrs. 
George Hancock, one of Dr. Dan's first supporters in the 
matter of Provident Hospital. She continued in the Worn- 
en's Aid Society, and when the others paid the dues of 
twenty-five cents a month, she never failed, people noted, 
to lay down a dollar. She kept up her old friendship with 
Julia Barr Anderson and Mrs. Pedro Tinsley with whom 
she had worked so hard for the Institutional Church Set- 
tlement. She wrote back East to Caddie Parke, Maggie 
Vaughan, and her matron of honor, Fanny Middleton, She 
told Fanny she was very lax to allow her daughter, then 
in normal school, to go unchaperoned to the theater with 
a dental student. She made gifts for her nieces, the daugh- 


PAGE ters of Dr. Dan's sisters and brother, and was more appre- 

228 ciative than once she had been of the little gifts they sent 
(Cent.) her. At Christmas time she packed two big barrels and 

sent them to Washington. She talked of adopting the 
daughter of Annie,, Dr. Dan's sister, but dropped the idea. 
When Dr. Dan's friend, J. Carlos Davis, the dentist, moved 
to Mexico to escape discrimination, she kept in touch with 
Emma Rose, his wife. "We are so interested in Mexican 
affairs," she wrote, "because of your presence there." She 
never failed to write letters of condolence when a friend 
lost a mother and they were letters her friends kept. "I 
know only too well," she wrote Emma Rose Davis, "what 
it means to lose a good mother." When Sarah Fleetwood 
died, her first schoolteacher, she wrote Edith how much 
she had admired her mother, "my ideal," she said, "of all 
that is beautiful in woman so gentle, so refined, so cul- 

229 The late Mrs. T. G. Nutter, daughter of Mary Robinson 
Meriwether, and the late Dr. Roberts told me of Dr. Dan's 
affair with the French woman. Dr. Dailey confirmed their 

230 Alice's visits were mentioned by Christine Shoecraft 
Smith and in BTW. Louise V. Mingo told of the surprise 


Break with Booker T. Washington 

231 The full title of The Voice was The Voice of the Col- 
ored People. It was commonly called The Voice. 

232 Dr. J. Max Barber told me of the prairie chicken dinner 
and the argument over Booker Washington. The reaction 
of the young Negro intelligentsia is discussed by W. E. B. 
DuBois in Dusk of Dawn, 1940; and by Ray Stannard 
Baker in his article "An Ostracized Race," American Maga- 
zine, Vol. LXVI, No. i, May 1908. Mrs. Samuel J. Evans 
furnished a photograph of Dr. Bentley. 

This is the sort of remark made by Booker Washington 
which angered young Negro intellectuals: "The oppor- 

Daniel Hale Williams 

PAGE tunity to earn a dollar in a factory just now is worth in- 

232 finitely more than the opportunity to spend a dollar in an 

(Cant.) opera house. . . . There is as much dignity in tilling a field 
as in writing a poem." 

That Madden and Bentley joined the DuBois camp was 
stated to me by DuBois, also by Barber. That Wheeler 
remained in the Washington camp is -apparent from BTW. 
These files tell the story of the newspaper dealings, the 
Freedmen's Hospital tragedy, and Booker Washington's 
choice of Hall over Dr. Dan. Details were added by Em- 
mett Scott, DuBois and Barber. 

Young Max Barber fought a losing fight with Booker 
Washington, who never forgave him for his criticism in 
The Voice. After an initial success in which he built the 
circulation to 17,000 in three years, Barber and The Voice 
fell into sore straits. In 1906 came the Atlanta riots when 
infuriated white mobs burned, killed and laid waste in the 
Negro section of the city. At no little personal risk, Barber 
had sent a dispatch to the New York Tribune presenting 
the Negro side of the tragic affair with unusual outspoken- 
ness. He had had to flee for his life. But he had re-entered 
the city, recovered the files of subscribers and brought 
them to the owners, a Chicago publishing company. Then 
the panic of 1907 and the subsequent use of scrip brought 
about a financial crisis which forced the publishers to put 
The Voice on the market. T. Thomas Fortune, maneu- 
vered out of The Age in New York by a stooge represent- 
ing Booker Washington, came to Chicago and bought The 
Voice but, for some reason, made nothing out of the ven- 
ture and soon returned East. Barber managed to get a job 
is editor of The Conservatory an anti- Washington paper 
in Chicago. But Booker Washington, through Dr. Dan, 
Louis B. Anderson and others, got control of The Con- 
servator. Louis Anderson called young Barber into his 
office and told him 'he had "made a mistake" in giving but 
a few lines to Washington's recent speech. And so, Barber 
was again without a paper. Short of funds, lecturing here 
and there, he traveled east. In Philadelphia he got a job as 
principal of the Berean Manual Training School, with a 
staff of seven or eight teachers to direct. "But the long arm 
of Washington reached out and plucked rne out of that 


PAGE job, too," says Barber. "I was told I would have to go, or 

232 the financial support given the school by a white real estate 
(Cont.) man, a friend of Washington's, would be withdrawn." 

Thoroughly discouraged after months of eking out an exist- 
ence with porter jobs and the like, Barber turned to den- 
tistry and gave up journalism. 

233 History of jurisdiction over Freedmen's Hospital is re- 
counted in Letter of the Secretary of the Interior, Febru- 
ary 21, 1906, House of Representatives Document No. 549, 
59th Congress, ist Session. 

That Warfield's political power emanated from family 
connections is common talk in the Negro colony. That he 
was mediocre in his management of Freedmen's was told 
me by various doctors including J. W. McDowell, the late 
John Kenney, by early nurses, and by Mae Irwin who 
served as Superintendent of Nurse Training at Freedmen's 
for some years. It is noticeable that both Dr. Dan and 
Booker Washington are careful not to mention his name 
anywhere in their lengthy correspondence. 

237 Dr. Dan's care of Scott was told by Scott, also in BTW. 
Scott said he inserted the item in The Student. 

238 Hall's status as a surgeon was given by Dailey, Scott, 
Roberts and others. He himself told Roberts he chose 
surgery for the money in it. His remark to Curtis was told 
by James White; his avoidance of surgical risks, by his one- 
time assistant, Dailey. 

The Birmingham surgeon who took the knife out of 
Hall's hand was Dr. Ulysses Grant Mason. 

240 Both DuBois and Barber said The Age was bought by 

white money to silence Fortune and give support to 
Booker Washington. 

W. E. B. DuBois had attacked Booker Washington in 
the Boston Guardian for buying up the Negro press, and 
the New York Post had attacked DuBois for not being able 
to prove his accusation. All that was needed was the file 
of Booker Washington's correspondence with Dr. Dan, 
now in the Manuscript Division of the Library of Congress. 

348 Daniel Hale Williams 

PAGE Dr. Dan was ill-fitted for the role he was now playing; he 

240 was too honest for intrigue. He urged Booker Washington 

(Cont.) to buy the Conservator outright and operate it, but the 
politician preferred his undercover methods. At the same 
time Washington complained piously about newspaper 
owners and editors who "seem to depend almost wholly 
upon graft rather than upon strictly business principles for 
success." "The main difficulty," Washington said, "seems 
to be that our people have such little business ability that 
it is almost impossible for them to carry any business en- 
terprise to success, however much they are helped." Con- 
trast this typical disbelief of the dictator in the abilities of 
others with Dr. Dan's faith in the potentialities of Negroes. 
"All they need is the chance," Dr. Dan said over and over. 
In 1890 T. Thomas Fortune, distinguished editor and 
founder of the New York Age, contemporary of Dr. Dan 
and Booker Washington, had attempted to meet the men- 
ace of threatening withdrawal of Federal protection of the 
civil rights of Negroes. He issued a call, accepted by 141 
delegates from twenty-one states, to come and found a na- 
tional civil rights body. The National Afro-Ajnerican 
League was, in a sense, the forerunner of a body of opin- 
ion that was obscured for a time by the Booker Washing- 
ton philosophy and arose resurgent in the later Niagara 
Movement, and continued into the present in the National 
Association for the Advancement of Colored People. That 
T. Thomas Fortune and The Age should fall under the 
Tuskegee ax was tragic. 

Letters of Secretary Garfield to Dr. Dan, dated Novem- 
ber 25, 1907, and March 25, 1908, concerning appointments, 
were found in Dr. Dan's effects and given me by his niece, 
Ada Blanche Williams. 

*44 The Howard University plan, Purvis's plan, together 

with various letters of Warfield and memoranda of Parker, 
are in NA. 

245 Accounts of the August 1908 meeting of the NMA are 

from files of the New York Post and the New York Age, 
also personal account of Dailey, A letter from Dr. Dan to 
Scott (BTW) says he spent $75 on slides. 


PAGE Scott described to me Hall's tactics in ridiculing Dr. Dan 

247 before the NMA. The 1905 incident was told by Dr. 
Dudley Turner to the late Dr. Roberts who repeated it 
to me. 

248 Dr. Dan's movements in the fall of 1908 are revealed in 
various letters to Scott (BTW). The operation upon Dun- 
ton is told in The Age, December 3, 1908. 

Mrs. E. P. Roberts, daughter of Warren Logan, Treas- 
urer of Tuskegee Institute, grew up on the Tuskegee 
campus and remembered Mrs. Hall's visits with her many 
trunks, cosmetics, etc. 

250 Freedmen's threatened loss of license was related by Mae 
Irwin, former Superintendent of Nurses. 

Dr. Dan never again asked Booker Washington to assist 
in anything. When President Theodore Roosevelt, before 
leaving office, organized a "distinguished army medical re- 
serve corps" of "scores of the most famous doctors in 
America," including a dozen in Chicago, Dr. Dan was ex- 
ercised that no Negro was appointed and that he himself 
had been left out of a list of men with whom he constantly 
associated professionally. He did not write Booker Wash- 
ington, but he did write Emmett Scott and asked if he 
thought it was possible to get Booker Washington to act 
in the matter. He said, "Our men are the best of soldiers 
in time of need and should be represented in every depart- 
ment, especially in the killing department. I mean by this, 
that they should have protection and safe care by their 
own during and after the fight wherever that may be." 
Scott, while sympathetic, could only report that "it seems 
inopportune to take up this matter just as this time." 

251 The Charity Ball invitation, listing committees, is in 


The twenty-fifth anniversary banquet is described in 
The Age, May 28, 1908. The cup I saw at Provident 

252 The late T. Arnold Hill repeated to me Hall's accusa- 
tion that Dr. Dan was undecided about race. Mrs. Hall's 
remark was made to me directly. 

The fire bell incident was told me by Dr. Booker. 

350 Daniel Hale Williams 

PAGE The late Dr. Roberts, Dr. Dailey and Mr. Max Gethner 

253 told me of Hall's tactics to gain power. Miss Lyon (Mrs. 
McMurdy) made her derogatory remarks directly to me. 
Dr. Booker witnessed Alf Anderson's mischievous treat- 
ment of Dr. Dan's affairs. Mrs. Ed Wright and Mrs. Rich- 
ard Rainey, late patients of Dr. Dan at Provident, told of 
neglect of his service, as did Dr. Booker. 

254 Dr. Barber told of the Bentleys' rejection of the Halls; 
Theodore Lee Purnell told of the Jones's rejection. The 
late Robert L. Taylor told the Sigma Pi Phi story as I give 
it here; the late Dr. Bousfield gave Hall's version. 

255 The last clinic at Mercy Hospital is described in NMA 
Jnl, April-June 1910, Vol. II, No. 2. The first clinic at 
Hubbard Hospital is described ibid., April-June 1911. Dr. 
G. Hamilton-Francis told of unveiling the portrait. 

The remark about keeping Provident "alive" is in Hart- 
shorn, op. cit.y item on George C. Hall. 

256 Wesley's qualities were described by Dr. White, who 
told of the discrimination in interneships, as did Dailey; 
examination of the Roster of Internes confirmed the fact. 

Wheeler's misfortunes were related by Mrs. White. His 
appointment at Tuskegee and his death are revealed in 

257 Hall's upward climb at Provident may be traced in the 
published reports of the hospital. 

Authentication of Dr. Dan's appointment to St. Luke's 
is given in a letter from the office of the Medical Director. 

Hall's campaign to prove Dr. Dan's appointment an act 
of disloyalty was described by Drs. White, Dickerson, 
Roberts, Dailey and Herbert Turner. 

The description of Webster's appearance and tempera- 
ment was given by the late Dr. Roberts. 

258 Minute books of the Provident Board of Trustees for 
1912 have been lost and with them the account of Dr. 


PAGE Dan's resignation. Dr. J. Carlos Davis, Dr. Turner and 

258 others said he offered no explanation or defense. That is 

(Com.) true of the press notices which appeared. The Broadax, 
Vol. XVII, No. 32, May n, 1912, states: "At a meeting 
of the Board of Trustees of Provident Hospital during the 
week, Dr. Daniel H. Williams tendered his resignation." 
Next week, May 18, a two-column-wide photograph of 
Dr. Dan was run with the caption: "Dr. Daniel H. Wil- 
liams, eminent physician and advanced surgeon one of 
the main founders of Provident Hospital, who resigned 
last week as a member of its board of Trustees." NMA 
Jnl, Vol. 4, No. 3, July-September 1912, said simply that 
"Dr. Daniel H. Williams has resigned from the Board of 
Trustees and the medical staff of Provident Hospital." 


The Record Made Straight 

259 The description of Idlewild and Dr. Dan's life there is 
from a personal visit and talks with residents: Harry 
Branch, the white man who originally owned the territory, 
Ada Blanche W. Z. Williams, Dr. Dan's niece who in- 
herited his property there, Mrs. Richard Rainey, young 
Daniel Rainey, Marguerite Banks, Mrs. Ed Wright, Mrs. 
Robert Hal Riffe, the late Dr. Roberts, Mrs. Edwin Eisner, 
postmistress for many years, Charles Grace, J. S. Royster, 
Dr. Isabella Garnett Butler, Mattie Herron, Dr. Ralph 
Stewart, Mattie Martin Gates, and Irene McCoy Gaines. 
In nearby Baldwin I consulted Robert Smith, Fred Brad- 
ford and Herbert Smith. I corresponded with Helen Ches- 

Fuller's letter was found in Dr. Dan's personal papers 
after his death, as were warm letters from Billings, Martin, 
Kohlsaat, and Webster. 

260 Descriptions of the historic first convocation of the 
American College of Surgeons, held in the Gold Room of 
the Congress Hotel, Chicago, may be found in the New 
York Times of November 13, 1913, the Chicago Tribune 
of November 14, the New York Age of November 20, 

352 Daniel Hale Williams 

PAGE and the Bulletin of the Chicago Medical Society, Vol. XIII, 

260 No. 12, December 1913. The last-named publication gives 
(Cont.) the names of the Chicago men inducted. Dr. Dan's certif- 
icate of membership may be seen at Provident Hospital. 
Twelve hundred of the most noted surgeons of the United 
States and Canada were received into charter member- 
ship and made Fellows, 103 from Chicago. That night 
Dr. Dan wrote Emmett Scott: ". . . this recognition will 
ease the way . . . perhaps it may be possible to assist 
others." But the American College of Surgeons discrimi- 
nated against the Negro surgeon for many years, despite 
the precedent set by its original Regents. Dr. Dan remon- 
strated about the situation to his friend, Franklin Martin, 
but was unable to effect the acceptance of other Negroes. 
Hall charged that he was keeping Negroes out. 

261 Dr. Dan's success at St. Luke's was told rne by Dr. S. C. 
Plumrner, Dr. Arthur R. Elliott, Dr. Rufus J. Collins, Dr. 
James Tweedie Campbell, Dr. Louis Schmidt, Dr. N. C. 
Gilbert and W. H. Zabel, Chief Pharmacist. 

Presentation of the bust is recounted in The History of 
the St. Luke's Hospital School of Nursing, Marie Georgette 
Merrill, Chicago, 1946. This item was furnished me by 
Carrie E. Bullock, R.N. 

Mrs. Richard Rainey recounted the proposal to name a 
ward for Dr. Dan. 

The Provident Hospital doctors named told of their ex- 
periences with George Hall. 

Bentley, because of his light skin color, his office on 
State Street, and the professional honors that came to him 
from whites, was subjected to much of the same talk of 
disloyalty that Dr. Dan suffered. He held out until 1917 
and then resigned. 

262 Fall-off in patients is revealed in the published reports. 

When Jeanette Lyon, HalFs ally, capped her career by 
marrying Judge McMurdy and retiring, Provident suf- 


PAGE fered a constant change of Superintendents of Nurses. 

262 Evelyn Kimmel, a capable woman, unsusceptible to cajol- 

(Cont.) ery, was the third to succeed Miss Lyon. One day, accord- 
ing to hospital rule, she charged Hall fifty cents for a 
urinalysis for an outside private patient. He was enraged. 
To the late Dr. Carl Roberts standing nearby he exclaimed 
"I'll get rid of her," and within a matter of months, he did. 
Hall worked like a Trojan to save Provident. Perhaps 
he would have done so even had his own fate not been 
tied up with the only hospital in the city that offered him 
an arena. Mrs. Hall, as chairman of the Women's Auxil- 
iaryentirely colored now since there was no one to 
maintain the contacts that had made it originally inter- 
racialworked vigorously too. She brought in $4000 or 
$5000 a year. To fill gaps on the Board of Trustees, Hall 
brought in some capable and respected men along with 
some who were mediocre. A. L. Jackson, his choice for 
chairman, reinforced the group with outstanding grad- 
uates from Harvard, his alma mater. This made a good 
Board and it resulted eventually, after Hall's death, in the 
third and greater Provident Hospital. The i65-bed plant 
with good equipment serves 7500 bed and 8000 clinic 
patients a year. The policy Dr. Dan inaugurated of provid- 
ing the highest type of education for colored doctors and 
nurses is now an established tradition. If white internes 
are seldom admitted it is because there are still so few 
opportunities elsewhere for the colored interne. The by- 
laws prohibit discrimination and during World War II 
Jewish refugee doctors were admitted to residencies when 
they could not find opportunities elsewhere that would 
permit them to qualify for licenses. However motivated by 
a desire for personal place and power, Hall gave an ag- 
gressive leadership in the civil field on behalf of the 
Negro. He led the drive for the Y.M.C.A., helped bring 
in the Urban League, was the first Negro to sit on the 
Library Board, and his work on the Riot Commission of 
1919 was said to be important and skillful. 

John Mallett said Dr. Dan walked the corridors at night. 

Drs. Smith, Dailey, Roberts and Turner told of Dr. 
Dan's continued interest in Provident. 

354 Daniel Hale Williams 

PAGE After all his children had grown and left home, Harry 

262 Anderson married again. His third wife was the former 
(Com.) Julia Settles. 

Dr. Bert Anderson told of his own reaction to Dr. Dan 
and his refusal to allow Dr. Dan to put up a tombstone. 
Reaction of the various relatives was told me in person. 

263 Hall's putting down his bag to fight was told by the late 
Dr. Roberts. 

Items about Dr. Annie B. Schultz were told by Dr. Rob- 
erts and Mrs. Ed Wright. 

It was Emmett Scott who said Dr. Dan "threw himself 
on you." 

264 The birthday dinner was held January 18, 1913, at the 
home of Mrs. Rita Carter on Rhodes Avenue. According 
to the reporter, Alice Williams never appeared to better 
advantage, looking, people said, "like a bit of rare china," 

Wilberforce University conferred the honorary degree 
of LL.D. on Dr. Dan in June 1909; Howard University, 
the degree of M.S. in June 1925. This was confirmed by 
the officers of these schools. 

The cup, presented June 1919, may be seen at Provident 

Irene McCoy Gaines, his secretary, also Dr. Dailey, said 
Dr. Dan made many speeches in his sixties. 

For his speech, "The Malingerer," see Publications 
No. 13. 

265 Account of Hall's and Booker Washington's dealings is 
found in BTW, where appear also the letters of Robert 

266 The faithfulness of Dr. Kenney and Emmett Scott is 
apparent in BTW, and was also voiced to me in person. 


PAGE Dr. Kenney told of Dr. Dan's operation on his wife. Dr. 

266 Dan's letter about Kenney 's brochure was published in 
(Com.) NMA JnL 

267 The incident at Camp Funston was told by Emmett 
Scott, also by Dr. Booker. A letter from Dr. James Mills, 
Jr., tells of Dr. Dan's attending his father's funeral. 

The story of the commissioning of the six hundred col- 
ored officers is told in Official History of the American 
Negro in the World War, Emmett /. Scott, 1919. 

268 Harriet Hollinger told of Dr. Dan's visits to Moses 
Brown's sons, and Harriette Kennedy Brown told of her 
husband's visit to Dr. Dan. The Wisconsin trip was told 
by Victoria Bishop Schuster. 

David Kennedy was the child of a mulatto and a Tus- 
carora Indian woman. As a baby he was toted pick-a-back 
by his Indian grandmother. His mother died and his 
father grieved so much he went off and, though Negroes 
were not being accepted, managed to enlist in the North- 
ern forces in the Civil War. David was just the age of Dan 
Williams and the two little boys became firm friends. They 
were playing alone together in the deserted schoolyard of 
the little Negro schoolhouse late one evening when word 
was brought David that his father had been killed. The 
kind white Condron family, the family for whom the 
Condron Opera House was named, brought up David. 
When he was grown he married Harriet Powell, grand- 
daughter of Thomas Williams, Dan's father's Lewistown 
cousin. It was to David Kennedy that Dr. Dan confided 
how brokenhearted he was over Kittie May Blake. 

269 By 1915 Dr. Dan had withdrawn almost completely 
from the colored medical fraternity. On a few occasions 
he momentarily emerged from his isolation. In 1918 he 
attended a dinner honoring Dr. James White on his re- 
turn from service in France. In 1919, despite Hall's pres- 
ence, he brought himself to attend and to speak at a din- 
ner given for his old disciple and friend, Wilberforce 
Williams. Wilberforce was going abroad for the Young 

350 Daniel Hale Williams 

PAGE Men's Christian Association, to lecture to colored soldiers. 

269 Hall could hardly stomach the acclaim given the departing 

(Cont.) doctor. "I hope the damn nigger drowns/ 7 he growled to 
Carl Roberts. But Wilberforce came safely home, and 
when he did, in January 1922, Dr. Dan again emerged 
from seclusion to attend a birthday dinner at his friend's 
home. Hall was not invited, but others susceptible to his 
influence were. The group was largely a medical group. 
On the table reposed a fine young suckling pig. The occa- 
sion was festive and the talk grew animated. Dr. Dan was 
led to remark that funds had been offered him from a 
wealthy white source with which to start another hospital, 
but it was specified the new hospital should be entirely 
staffed with colored doctors. "So," said Dr. Dan, "I re- 
fused the money, for how could we staff it?" His remark 
was quietly, almost carelessly made, according to Roberts, 
Dickerson and White; he apparently expected no reaction 
to it. But it was repeated outside and, as the weeks and 
months passed, was so exaggerated and embroidered that 
there was a new cry of "Disloyal!" Naturally there was 
keen disappointment that such an opportunity had been 
lost; more outlet was needed then as now for the pent-up 
abilities and energies of the circumscribed colored profes- 
sion. The late Dr. Carl Roberts judged there were then ten 
or eleven men at Provident who were ready to head de- 
partments. But, even if his opinion was correct, and if Dr. 
Dan had pulled them all out to staff a new hospital, the 
new hospital would still have lacked a number of needed 
specialists and Provident would have been stripped of all 
but George Hall, for Provident would allow no man to 
serve on two staffs. There would have been no real gain for 
the race and Dr. Dan would have been subject to the accu- 
sation that he had started another hospital to ruin Hall and 
Provident together. As a matter of fact, the late Dr. John 
Kenney said: "I don't know where he could have got all 
the men necessary for a completely colored staff; I myself 
had the problem in Newark." And Dr. Dailey says; "Dr. 
Williams's remark was true. At that time we had no real 
specialists in internal medicine, no neurologist, no urolo- 
gist, no obstetrician, and our specialists in eye, ear, nose 
and throat were only in embryo. But it was certainly an 
impolitic remark and was such as Dr. Williams was rated 
to make, but it was true." 


PAGE Christine Shoecraft Smith told of the diabetes and the 

269 wood chopping, and Mrs. Beaudreau told how Dr. Dan 

(Cont.) insisted on being driven to his office when he was too 
weak to get there otherwise. 

At sixty Dr. Dan removed a giant pyosalpinx; see Pub- 
lications No. 14. 

Dr. Dan's visits to Bailiff's resort at Benton Harbor were 
told by Hettie Mitchem Turner and confirmed by C. O. 
Bailiff. The late Dr. Roberts told how Hall made the place 
unpleasant for Dr. Dan. 

271 Alice Williams paid her last visit to Washington in 1917. 
By this time she had learned to drive well and enjoyed it, 
as she did the resumption of her china painting. When 
young Reverend Shelton Hale Bishop, Dr. Dan's name- 
sake, married Eloise Carey in 1919 she presented them 
with some of her handiwork, a sugar bowl and cream 
pitcher. Soon after she fell ill. 

The nature of Alice Williams's illness was ascertained 
from Dr. Gilbert. 

Mrs. William T. Childs and Julia LeBeau Thompson 
paid tribute to Alice's fortitude, as did Dr. Gilbert and 
others. Estelle Arnold told of Alice's rejection of a minis- 
ter and Mrs. Thompson told of the reading of Tennyson's 

After her death, Dr. Dan was anxious, said Hugo Wil- 
Uams, that each of her friends should have something be- 
longing to her. To her physician he gave a quantity of her 
fine Haviland. 

272 Not until he was sixty-nine, in 1925, did Dr. Dan admit 
he needed help with his office patients. He asked young 
Dr. Leon Tancil to assist him. The arrangement was con- 
genial and when Tancil married, Dr. Dan invited him to 
bring his bride, daughter of Mary Church Terrell, the 
noted race leader, to live with him. The house on West 
42nd Street was larger than he needed since Alice had 
died. He had Mrs. Croker to care for him, but he wanted 

358 Daniel Hale Williams 

PAGE company, six months of the year he would be in Idlewild. 

272 The young couple accepted, but not without misgivings. 

(Cont.) Mrs. Tancil (now Mrs. Beaudreau) writes of those days: 
"We had heard that Dr. Dan was difficult to get along 
with, but we found he was not nearly so grouchy as we 
were made to believe. . . . We were all like a family there 
and despite his reputation of being odd, we did not find 
him so. He used to joke about the way I ordered him 
around, he said no one ever had ordered him as I did, but 
he liked it. As he grew forgetful, he would sometimes 
accuse Dr. Tancil or Mrs. Croker of mislaying his books 
or something, but he never accused me." Dr. Dan grew 
weaker but was stubborn about giving up. Kahlke saw him 
at an Eastern medical meeting and thought he looked very 
ill, but Dr. Dan brushed aside Kahlke's anxious queries. At 
home he was less and less able to stand noise or bustle of 
any kind. The radio bothered him, the TancuY two dogs 
bothered him, and finally the young couple, finding them- 
selves confined to an almost hospital atmosphere, decided 
they must move out if they were to have a normal social 
life. The parting came after three years and was friendly. 
But now Dr. Dan was lonely indeed. He wandered back 
and forth between his own home and that of his old 
friends, Mary Lizzie and Wilberforce. And then his be- 
fuddled state led him into difficulties even with those old 
friends. He asked Mary Lizzie to have one of his chairs 
upholstered, forgot he had done so, and stormed and re- 
fused to pay the bill. In April 1929 he spent several weeks 
in Dailey's private sanitarium and by then Dailey con- 
firmed the fact his mental faculties were impaired, as well 
as his speech. J. Carlos Davis thought his friends should 
ask the court to appoint a conservator and spoke to 
Louis B. Anderson about it, but Anderson refused to do 
anything for fear people would say he was after Dr. Dan's 

Dr. Dan went off to Washington, bought a house at 1214 
Park Road and took his aged sister Annie and his sister 
Alice to live with Mm. Florence had died in 1914, Sally 
in 1915, and Ida still earlier. Dr. Charles West cared for 
him, and Lily Waring Moore, an old friend of his wife's, 
nursed him. In May 1930, his brother Price's daughter, 
Ada Blanche Zaratt, came from Puerto Rico and took 
charge of Dr. Dan. She took him to Chicago and on to 


PAGE California for the winter, where he suffered another stroke 

272 and had to be brought back to St. Luke's. Somewhat bet- 
(Cont.) ter and back in his apartment at 5942 South Michigan 

Avenue, he received friendly calls from Dr. N. C. Gilbert. 
Long before, Gilbert had delighted to listen to Dr. Dan's 
tales in the smoking room; now there was little he could 
do for the great man medically. W. H. Zabel, St. Luke's 
Chief Pharmacist for so many years, came too. As summer 
approached, Dr. Dan begged to be taken to Idlewild to 
die, and his niece complied with his request. 

On November 12, 1930, a codicil was added to Dr. Dan's 
will, giving all chattel property as well as the real estate 
and house in Idlewild, together with one half of the resid- 
uary estate, to his niece "in consideration of her giving 
up her own home and affairs to live with me and to care 
for my remaining years." The signature, a trembling, 
childlike scrawl, bears no resemblance to Dr. Dan's former 
signature. The will is on file in the Probate Court, Chicago. 

The late Dr. Minton showed me Dr. Dan's letters to him 
about sending his books to Mercy Hospital, Philadelphia. 

Billings's letter making the dinner appointment was 
found in Dr. Dan's papers, along with several others ex- 

Eressing admiration and friendship, after his death. Dr. 
udwig Hektoen, who was at the dinner, related the en- 
gagement to the Provident Hospital drive for funds, and 
the late Dr. Roberts told of Billings's refusal to assist Provi- 
dent after Dr. Dan's resignation and of his later acceptance 
of the chairmanship of the fund committee. 

Dr. Dailey told of receiving the files and chair. 

273 Obituaries appeared in the Chicago Tribune, New York 
Times, Chicago Defender, NMA Jnl, AMA Jnl, Time and 
many other papers. 

The tribute in the Lake County Star is from the edition 
of August 7, 1931. 

360 Dmiel Hale Williams 

PAGE Herbert Davis, editor of the Star, said when I called on 

273 him that Dr. Dan's generosity was unbounded, that he edu- 

(Cont.) cated many a boy in the neighborhood, first requiring him 
not to tell, and that he offered to equip a hospital in Bald- 
win if the townspeople would furnish the building, which 
they failed to do. Fred Bradford was one Dr. Dan offered 
to educate; he offered to set up a trust fund for his com- 
plete medical education, but Fred's mother did not want 
him to leave home. When Fred's brother Andy fell in a 
dead faint with a ruptured stomach ulcer, Dr. Dan came 
and stayed twelve hours by him without leaving, and vis- 
ited him daily, sometimes two and three times a day, for 
six weeks; he saved his life and sent no bill. In gratitude 
the Bradfords came and put up rose trellises for Dr. Dan. 
At Christmas time he sent gifts to many. To Mrs. Eisner, 
the postmistress, besides personal gifts for herself and her 
husband, he sent clothing for all the needy children round- 
about together with a little gift. Mrs. Eisner addressed 
them and mailed them out. "We remember Dr. Dan," said 
Mr. Davis, "with something akin to reverence up here." 

274 Harry Branch's museum at Idlewild Terrace displays 

Dr. Dan's photograph along with some of his instruments 
and his razors, and displays his "card" in I. C. Harris's 
Directory of Colored Chicago, 1885. 

On November 26, 1930, Mrs. Croker, his former house- 
keeper, a member of Father Eckert's parish, who had long 
been eager to have Dr. Dan baptized into the Catholic 
Church, sent for her priest. The rite was performed in 
Dr. Dan's room. In the year before his first stroke, Dr. 
Dan gave his religion as "Unitarian" in Who's Who in 
American Medicine 1925, Lloyd Thompson and Winfield 
Scott Downs, eds. 

Father Eckert told me Mrs. Croker called him to come 
and baptize Dr. Dan and gave the date and place and said 
Dr. Dan was not able to walk. 

The late Dr. Roberts said few colored people attended 
the funeral. W. H. Zabel, who attended, said the church 
was packed. 


PAGE Various persons spoke of the wreath incident at the 

274 cemetery, including Drs. Spencer Dickerson and Wil- 

(Cont.) Ham A. Lew-is. 

James Gordon told me of the failure to give recognition 
to Dr. Dan at the third Provident building, of his protest, 
and of the belated restitution. Members of the staff paid 
for the portrait, the National Medical Association fur- 
nished the bronze plaque. I visited Provident lobby and 
saw these souvenirs. 

Persons Consulted 

The thanks I have attempted to voice in my Acknowledgments I re- 
peat here to these many persons who so patiently provided me with 
the detail without which this book could not have been written. They 
are, however, in no way responsible for the use I have made of their 

Isaac A. Abt, M.D., James Alderson, M.D., Leonard Alexander, 
Lillie Smith Alexander, Henrietta Anieric, Archibald Anderson, 
Daniel Herbert Anderson, M.D., Jessica Anderson, Louis B. Anderson, 
Retta M. Arnett, R.N., Estelle L. Arnold, Mrs. George Arthur, Char- 
lotte Atwood, Nancy Atwood, Jennie L. Avendorph. 

C. O. Bailiff, J. Max Barber, D.D.S., Elizabeth Tyler Barringer, 
R,N., Mary Terrell Tancil Beaudreau, Mrs. Beauduit, Tomietta 
Stokes Beckham, R.N., Zellie Ridgley Bennett, L. L. Berry, Jesse 
Binga, Eloise Carey Bishop, the Reverend Shelton Hale Bishop, Jennie 
Blackburn, Arthur J. Booker, M.D., P. C. Boomer, M.D., May Boston, 
M. O. Bousfield, M.D., Harry Bowser, Fred Bradford, Harry Branch, 
Melesenah Maine Brinkley, Kate Gibson Brooks, R.N., Charles R. 
Brown, Edith M. Brown, Eva Lucas Brown, Harriette Kennedy 
Brown, Coleman G. Buford, M.D., Carrie E. Bullock, R.N., Allan 
Burdick, H. W. Burnard, M.D., Mrs. Burrus, Harriet Shadd Butcher, 
Alice Thornton Butler, Isabella Garnett Butler, M.D. 

M. Blaine Caldwell, James Tweedie Campbell, M.D., Charles W. 
Cansler, Archibald J. Carey, Jr., Edith M. Carter, R,N., Helen M. 
Chesnutt, Mrs. William T. Quids, Mrs. Robert Church, Elizabeth 
McCard Clark, Montague Cobb, M.D., William E. Cobb, Berta Cornell 
Coleman, Duvall E. Colley, M.D., Mrs. Duvall E. Colley, Rufus J. 

3 64 Daniel Hale Williams 

Collins, M.D., W. H. Compton, Anna J. Cooper, Homer P. Cooper, 
M.D., Norman Croker, M.D., Mary Cromwell, Otelia Cromwell, 
Alice Williams Cuffee, Mrs. William N. Cummings. 

Ulysses Grant Dailey, M.D., Herbert Davis, J. Carlos Davis, D.D.S., 
Mrs. J. C. Davis, Clara Demmey, Jessie Williams DePriest, Oscar 
DePriest, Spencer C. Dickerson, M.D., Lillie Doughty, Frederick 
Douglas, Kathleen Brown Douglas, W. E. Burghhardt DuBois. 

Reverend Joseph Eckert, Mara Franc Edwards, Frances Middleton 
Elam, Arthur R. Elliott, M.D., Mrs. Edwin Eisner, Carrie Ridgley 
Evans, Mrs. Samuel J. Evans, Lillian Evanti, B. A. Everett, M.D. 

Marie Fellows, M.D., Edith Fleetwood, Virginia Powell Florence, 
G. Hamilton Francis, M.D., Chester A. Franklin, Clara Belle Williams 
Franklin, D. Peter French, Henry W. Furniss, M.D., Sumner A. 
Furniss, M.D. 

Irene McCoy Gaines, Alamanda Williams Garnett, Josephine Wil- 
liams Garnett, Charles H. Garvin, M.D., Mattie Martin Gates, Emma 
George, Max P. Gethner, M.D., Maymie Van Vranken Gibson, N. C. 
Gilbert, .D., Roscoe C. Giles, M.D., James G. Gordon, Charles Grace, 
Helen Williams Ramsay Gray, Mabel Mason Greene. 

Andy Hall, M.D., Harriett Curtis Hall, Mrs. Henry Hall, John B. 
Hall, M.D., Nina Bamen Hall, Theodocia Brewer Hall, Beatrice Fitz- 
gerald Hawkins, Ludwig Hektoen, M.D., Franklyn A. Henderson, 
Mattie Herron, T. Arnold Hill, J, Seth Hills, M.D., Harriet Dennis 
Hollinger, John Hamilton Holman, M.D., Lucy Messer Holmes, Wil- 
liam R. Houston, Marie Hudlin, Mary G. Hudson, Beatrice Ridgley 
Hume, Grace E. Hunte, John E. Hunter, M.D. 

Reverend G. Lake Imes, Mae Irwin, R.N. 

Alexander L. Jackson, Harry A. Jacobs, Francis Jamison, D.D.S., 
Sarah Jennings, Charles S. Johnson, Joseph L. Johnson, Katie Johnson, 
E. Kinckle Jones, Frank C. Jones, M.D., Richard Lloyd Jones. 

Charles E. Kahlke, M.D., Mrs. B. Lane Kelly, Charles Kelly, John 
W. Kelly, E. A. Kendall, M.D., John A. Kenney, M,D., Minerva 
Guernsey King. 

Roscoe Lane, Helen J. Lattimore, Eva Hunt LeVere, Bertie Brooks 
Lewis, Carrie Lewis, Charles A, Lewis, M.D., Julian Heath Lewis, 
M.D., Lawrence A. Lewis, M.D., Tillie Lloyd, Myra Logan, MJD., 
Etta E. Loomis, Grace S. Lord. 

Selim W. MacArthur, M.D., J. W, McDowell, M.D., Charles 
McElroy, Harriet Layton McFadden, David A. McGowan, J. A. Mc- 
Millan, M.D., Jeannette Lyons McMurdy, Philip McMurray, M.D. 

Monroe A. Majors, M.D., Emma Lawrence Warren Mallet, John 
Middleton Mallet, Pearl Barbour Marchant, Mrs. E. H. Mars, Anna 
A. Mason, James S. Mills, Jr., M.D., Wallace C. Mills, Louise V. 


Mingo, Henry M. Minton, M.D., Mrs. Henry M. Minton, Harry E. 
Mock, M.D., C. E. Moreland, Del Gratia Scott Moreland, Mrs. Norris 
Morgan, Mrs. Clifton Moss, N. F. Mossell, M.D., Eloise Palmer Mouat, 
Anna Evans Murray. 

Sarah Meriwether Nutter. 

Caroline Parke, Mrs. E. H. B. Parker, Blanche Thornton Parnall, 
Julia West Paul, Howard Marshall Payne, M.D., Katie B. Payne, 
Clarena Harris Pendleton, J. Edward Perry, M.D., James M. Phalen, 
M.D., Lorraine Pinchback, Samuel Craig Plummer, M.D., James Hale 
Porter, Theodora Lee Purnell. 

Daniel Rainey, Louise Rainey, Bishop Reverdy Ransom, W. A. 
Reed, M.D., Curtis W. Reese, Juliana Willis Rhodes, Mary W. B. 
Richardson, Lottie Bishop Ridgley, Mrs. Robert Hal Riffe, Carl 
Glennis Roberts, M.D., E. P. Roberts, M.D., Mrs. E. P. Roberts, 
Mamie Roberts, Angie T. Roethe, J. S. Royster. 

Jessie Sleet Scales, R.N., Louis Schmidt, M.D., Victoria Bishop 
Schuster, Emmett J. Scott, Howard D. Scott, James Scott, Mary Scott, 
Blanche V. Shaw, Christine Shoecraft Smith, Daniel Smith, M.D., 
Reginald Smith, M.D., Robert Smith, Anna Pounder Sorrell, Annie 
Stewart, F. A. Stewart, Jr., D.D.S., Harriet George Stewart, Ralph 
Stewart, M.D., Elizabeth Ramsey Still, Agnes Thornton Stives, 
Blanche Williams Stubbs, Frederick Stubbs, M.D., Charles L. Suther- 
land, M.D., Mrs. Orion Sutherland, Florence Prettyman Suydam. 

Elizabeth Palmer Taylor, Robert L. Taylor, William F. Taylor, 
Mary Church Terrell, Gardner Thomas, Charles H. Thompson, Julia 
LeBeau Thompson, Herbert Turner, M.D., Hettie Mitcham Turner, 
William B. Turner. 

Reverend Irvin W. Underbill. 

Bertha Van Hoosen, M.D., Frank W. Van Kirk, M.D., Harriet L. 
Van Vranken. 

Mary Louise Hall Walker, J. H. Ward, M.D., William A. Warfield, 
M.D., Lula G. Warlick, R.N., Esther Watson, Fannie West, Howard 
D. West, M.D., Rebecca West, Lola Brown Whipple, Clarence Cam- 
eron White, Helen Brown White, James R. White, M.D., Melesenah 
White, Walter White, Ada Blanche W. Z. Williams, Hugo Williams, 
O. B. Williams, M.D., Raphael Dumas Williams, Sadie Fitzgerald 
Wilson, Maude Hall Winnett, M.D., W. W. Wolf, M.D., Carter G. 
Woodson, Howard D. Woodson, Louis T. Wright, M.D., Lucille F. 

William J. Yerby. 

William H. Zabel. 

Publications of 
Daniel Hale Williams, M.D., F.A.C.S. 

1. "Several Cases of Inflammation Starting in the Caecum and Vermi- 
form Appendix," read at meeting of Gynecological Society of 
Chicago, March 17, 1895. 

Transactions of the Gynecological Society of Chicago for 

the year 1893-1894, Vol. 2, pp. 130-135. 

American Journal of Obstetrics, 1893, Vol. 28, pp. 260-281. 

2. Annual Report, Freedmen's Hospital, July i, 1895. 

3. Annual Report, Freedmen's Hospital, July i, 1896. 

4. "Stab Wound of the Heart and Pericardium. Suture of the Peri- 
cardium. Recovery. Patient Alive Three Years Afterward." By 
Daniel H. Williams, M.D., Surgeon, Freedmen's Hospital, Wash- 
ington, D.C. 

New York Medical Record, March 27, 1897, Vol. 51, pp. 

437-439, illustrated. 

5. Annual Report, Freedmen's Hospital, July i, 1897. 

6. "Uterine Fibroids," letter dated December i, 1897, from Daniel H. 
Williams to Dr. E. Stillman Bailey, read as part of report by 
Bailey on "The Medical Treatment of Uterine Fibroids," at the 
Section of the Medical Diseases of Women of the Clinical Society, 
regular monthly meeting held December 18, 1897. 

Clinique, Chicago, 1898, Vol. 19, pp. 23-24. 

7. "A Case of Intestinal Obstruction Following Ventro-Fixation." 
Discussion of paper by Albert Goldspohn, at meeting of the Chi- 
cago Gynecological Society, March 21, 1900. 

American Gynecological and Obstetrics Journal^ 1900, Vol. 

16, p. 573. 

8. "Surgical Cases: An Unusual Case of Molluscum Fibrosum; Hernia 
of Bladder; Fibromatous Pregnant Uterus," By Daniel H. Wil- 


Hams, M.D., Chicago (3034 Michigan Ave.), presented at clinical 
meeting of Chicago Medical Society, Wednesday, December 20, 

Chicago Medical Recorder, 1900, Vol. 18, pp. 43-47. 

Obstetrics (New York), 1900, Vol. 2, pp. 70-72 (Fibrorna- 

tous Pregnant Uterus). 

The Philadelphia Medical Journal, February 17, 1900, Vol. 5, 

pp. 404-405 (An Unusual Case of Molluscum Fibrosum). 
9. "The Need of Hospitals and training Schools for the Colored 
People of the South." By Daniel H. Williams, M.D., Attending 
Surgeon, Provident and Cook County Hospitals. 

Reprint of paper read before the Phillis Wheatley Club at 

Nashville, Tennessee, January 23, 1900. 5 pages, illustrated. Na- 
tional Hospital Record, Detroit. No date. 

ID. "Ovarian Cysts in Colored Women, with Notes on the Relative 
Frequency of Fibromas in Both Races." By Daniel H. Williams, 
M.D., of Chicago, 111., Attending Surgeon to the Cook Co. and 
Provident Hospitals. Read at regular meeting of the Chicago 
Medical Society, December 26, 1900. 

Chicago Medical Recorder, 1901, Vol. 20, pp. 47-57, 100- 


The Philadelphia Medical Journal, December 29, 1900, Vol. 

6, pp. 1244-1248. 

11. "A Report of Two Cases of Caesarean Section under Positive In- 
dications with Terminations in Recovery." By Daniel H. Wil- 
liams, M.D., Attending Surgeon to the Cook County and Provi- 
dent Hospitals, Chicago, 111. Read before Chicago Gynecological 
Society, January 18, 1901. 

American Journal of Obstetrics, 1901, Vol. 45, pp. 315-322, 

400-403 (illustrated). 

12. "Penetrating Wounds of the Chest, Perforating the Diaphragm, 
and Involving the Abdominal Viscera. Case of Successful Spleen 
Suture for Traumatic Haemorrhage." By Daniel H. Williams, 
M.D., of Chicago, Attending Surgeon to the Cook Co. and Provi- 
dent Hospitals. Read before Chicago Medical Society, June 16, 

Annals of Surgery, 1904, Vol. 40, pp. 675-685 (illustrated). 

Illinois Medical Journal, 1904, Vol. 6, pp. 384-386 (last 5 

pages of article). 

Chicago Medical Recorder, 1904, Vol. 26, pp. 586-591 (illus- 

13. "The Malingerer." By Daniel Hale Williams, M.D., LL.EX, 
F.A.C.S., Chicago. Read at 9th Annual Meeting, Surgical Associa- 

368 Daniel Hale Williams 

tion of the Chicago and North Western Railway, Rochester, 
Minnesota, December 10-11, 1915. 

The Railway Surgical Journal, 1915-1916, Vol. 22, pp. 445- 

448 (last paragraph is abridged). 

Neiv York Medical Journal, April 8, 1916, Vol. 103, pp. 

684-686 (omits discussion). 

14. "Unusually Large Pyosalpinx." Dr. Daniel Hale Williams, with 
pathological report by Mr. Kenneth Hallock. Read at regular 
meeting of Chicago Gynecological Society, January 21, 1916. 

Surgery, Gynecology, Obstetrics, 1916, Vol. 22, pp. 741- 



Abbreviation: DHW for Daniel Hale Williams 

Afro-American, Baltimore, 265 
Age, The, New York, 231, 240 
Allis Chalmers Machine Shop, 70 
All Souls Unitarian Church, Chi- 
cago, 62 
All Souls Unitarian Church, Janes- 

ville, 12, 20, 225 
Altgeld, John, Governor of Illinois, 


American College of Surgeons, 260 
American Dermatological Society, 

American Medical Association, 23, 

177* *9 6 

American Public Health Associa- 
tion, 64 

Amherst College, 231 

Anderson, Alfred (Alfie), 4, 55, 

*53-*54 z6z 

Anderson, Archibald, 214 
Anderson, Charles Henry (Harry), 

3-4, 7-9, 12-13, 20-21, 29, 31-32, 

35-37> 44-47' 54~55i *57, 189, 199, 

Anderson, Dr. Daniel Herbert 

(Bert), 4, 45, 55-56, 157, 262 
Anderson, Ellen (Byron), second 

wife of Charles Henry Anderson, 

4, 13, 16, 38, 45, 54, 55. *<>* 
Anderson, George, dentist, 4, 12, 46, 


Anderson, Harry. See Anderson, 

Charles Henry 
Anderson, Jessica, 214 
Anderson, Julia (Settles), third wife 

of Charles Henry Anderson, 189, 


Anderson, Louis B., 39, 214, 225, 269 
Anderson, Tessie, 4, 54-55, 102 
Anderson, Traviata (Vytie, 'Viata), 

first wife of Charles E. Bentley, 

4, 21, 32, 38, 45, 55, 61, 75-76, 102, 


Anderson's String Band, 3, 8, 13, 16 
Anderson's Tonsorial Parlor and 

Bathing Rooms, 3, 7, 9, 199 
Andrews, Dr. Edmund, 41-44, 63, 

Andrews, Dr. E. Wyllys, 54, 80, 99, 


Annals of Surgery, 94, 213 

Annapolis, Maryland, home of an- 
cestors of DHW, 5-6, 21, 131; 
DHW's childhood in, 55-56; 
Price Williams buried there, 131; 
Sarah Price Williams buried there, 

Antoine, Dr. Felix, 241 

Apollo Hall, 8 

Appendicitis, history of, 80-8 1; 
DHW reads his first paper on, 81 

Armour, P. D., 70, 73, 84, 174 

Arnett, Bishop B. F., 69 


Daniel Hale Williams 

Associated Charities, 107 
Aunt Charlotte, DHW's aunt, 32, 38 
Avendorph, Jennie, 228, 268 
Avendorph, Julius N., 157, 174, 185* 

189, 214, 268 
Avendorph, Julius N., Jr., 268-269 

Bailey, Dr. Stillman, 179 
Baker, Henry, 136 
Baltimore, Garnett, 151-152 
Baltimore, Maryland, DHW a shoe- 
maker's apprentice in, 6 
Baptist Church, 19 
Barber, J. Max, dentist, 231-232, 


Barnes, Judge, 84 
Barnes, Dr., surgeon, 121 
Barnett, Ida B. (Wells), 83, 146 
Barr, Dr. Elmer E., 77, 88, 91 
Bateman, Newton, President, Knox 

College, 62 
Beckett, Mr., District Property 

Clerk, 168 

Beckham, Tornietta Stokes, 214 
Bee, Washington, D.C., 132, 138, 

162, 171 

Beecher, Rev. Henry Ward, 1 1 
Beffel, J. M., 179 
Bellevue Hospital Medical College, 


Benjamin family, 56, 58 
Bentley, Dr. Charles E., 55, 61, 72, 

76, 98, 144, 173, 223, 232, 254, 256, 

258, 261, 273 
Bentley, Florence (Lewis), second 

wife of Charles E. Bentley, 189, 

223, 232, 254 
Bentley, Traviata (Anderson), first 

wife of Charles E. Bentley. See 

Anderson, Traviata 
Bernhardt, Sarah, 152 
Bethel African Methodist Episcopal 

Church, 62, 70, 73, 82, 251 
Billings, Dr. Frank, 50, 53, 76, 80, 

187, 261, 272 

Billroth, Dr. Theodor, 87 
Binga, Jesse, 71, 75 

Bishop, Rev. Hutchins, 55-56, 136, 
152, 268 

Bishop, Rev. Shelton Hale, 56, 136 

Blackever, James, roi 

Blackstone's Cowmientaries, 16-17 

Blake, Mr. and Mrs. Adam, 56-58 

Blake, Kittie May, 57-58, 65, 102 

Bliss, Cornelius, Secretary of the In- 
terior, 132-134, 144-145, 159-161, 
166, 172 

Block, Dr., 86-87 

Board of Incorporators, Freedmen's 
Hospital, 140-142, 144 

Board of Visitors, Freedmen's Hos- 
pital, 159, 161-162, 164-167, 171, 
235-236, 243-244 

Bond, Carrie (Jacobs), 14, 186 

Booker, Dr. Arthur J., 217, 254 

Botanic sect of medicine, 22 

Boyd, Dr. R. F., 194, 196 

Broadax, Chicago, 234 

Brown, John, Abolitionist, 27, 52 

Brown, Bishop John M., 69 

Brown, Moses, 268 

Brown, Dr. Robert W., 127 

Bruce, Mrs. Blanch K., 188 

Buford, Dr. Coleman, 54, 88, 91, 
260, 272 

Bur dick, Blanche, 14 

Byford, Dr. Henry T., 76, 77 

performed by DHW: on dwarf, 
1 1 8-1 22 ; complicated by 1 8-pound 
tumor, 124-125; discussion of, by 
Washington doctors, 126; discus- 
sion of, by Chicago doctors, 184 

Calloway, Preacher, 74 

Camp Funston, 267 

Cappelen, Dr., surgeon, 93, 95 

Carey, Bishop Archibald, 214 

Carey, Mrs. Archibald, 215 

Carey, Dorothy, 215 

Carey, Eloise, 215 

Carey, Madison Davis, 214, 215 

Carter, Edith, 123, 125, 272 

Cedar Hill, home of Frederick 
Douglass, 131 

INDEX 371 

Centennial Exposition, 149 
Central Tennessee College, 194 
Charity Organization Society, 83 
Chase, Calvin B., 138 
Chesnutt, Charles Waddell, 231, 259 
Chicago & Northwestern Railway 

Surgical Association, 264 
Chicago College of Dental Surgery, 

Chicago Correspondence University, 

6 * 

Chicago Historical Society, 25 
Chicago Medical College, 22-24, 28, 

33~35, 40-43, 47-48, ?o, 74, 7^, 79, 


Chicago Medical Recorder, 179, 213 
Chicago Medical Society, 81, 177- 

180, 2ii 

Chicago Surgical Society, 95 
Chislett, Dr. Howard, 173, 272 
City Railway Company of Chicago, 

54, 137 
Civil Service Commission, 134, 144- 


Civil War, 3, 6, 26, 105, 108 

Claflin University, 248 

Cleveland, Grover, President, 97, 
100, 132-133, 142-143 

Clinical Society of Chicago, 179 

College of Physicians and Surgeons, 

Colley, Dr. Duvall, 115, 129 

Colored American, newspaper, 
Washington, D.C., 101, 161 

"Colored American, The," poem by 
Paul Laurence Dunbar, 135 

Compton, W. H., 197 

Congregational Church, First, 104 

Congressional Committee to investi- 
gate charitable and reformatory 
institutions in District of Colum- 
bia, 132-144, 159 

Conservator, Chicago, 54, 234, 240, 

Cook County Hospital, 22, 25, 36, 
41, 185, 257 

Cooke, John F. T 135 

Cordoza, Harry, 165-166 

Cornish, James, 85, 88-93, 95-96, 

207-208, 260 

Cotton, George Albert, 95 
Cotton States Exposition, 191 
Cow Town, 1 08, 135 
Cox, Betty (Mrs. John R. Francis), 

151, 155 

Croker, Dr. Fred, 259 

Croker, Margaret (Mrs. Fred), 259, 
272, 274 

"Crossing the Bar" (Alfred Tenny- 
son), 271 

Crushed extremities, treatment of, 
by DHW, 214, 246 

Culbertson, Dr. Carey, 260 

Curl, Connie, 73 

Curtis, Dr. Austin M., 77, 84, 133- 
134, 144-145, 160-161, 163-164, 1 66, 
172, 204, 219, 222, 238, 242, 260 

Curtis, Mrs. Austin M., 74, 133, 145 

Curtis, Hattie, 84 

Gushing, Dr. Harvey, 183 

223, 247, 261-262, 270, 272 

Dalton, Dr. H. C., 94 

Darrow, Clarence, 73, 174, 224-225 

Darwin, Charles, 9 

Davis, Herbert, 273 

Davis, J. Carlos, dentist, 268 

Davis, Dr. Nathan Smith, dean, 
Chicago Medical College, 23, 28- 

29, 33, 59 

Davis, Dr. Thomas A., 185 
Davison, Dr. Charles, 185 
Delaware Indians, 5 
DeLee, Dr. Joseph B., 180, 184, 


Denison, Franklin A., 69 
Dental College, Howard University, 

Department of the Interior, 104, 

106-107, 132, 145, 159, 164. See also 

Secretary of the Interior 
DePriest, Jessie (Williams), 262 
DePriest, Oscar, 225 
Derrick, Bishop W. B., 155, 267 
DeWolf, Oscar, 48, 63 


Daniel Hale Williams 

Dickerson, Dr. Spencer, 219, 261- 

262, 272 
District [of Columbia] Board of 

Commissioners, 102-103, 107, 144 
Doane, Bishop William Croswell, 


Dockery, Alexander M., Congress- 
man from Missouri, 137 

Doty, Henry, 45 

Douglass, Frederick, 82, 99, 131, 192, 

DuBois, W. E. B., 231, 273 

Dudley, Dr. E. C, 48 

Dunbar, Paul Laurence, 135, 155 

Dunton, Lewis M., president, Claflin 
University, 248 

Dwarf, Caesarean operation on, per- 
formed by DHW, 118-122 

EBERSOLE, SARAH C., 111-112, 114, 

125, 1 60, 164-165 
Eckert, Father, 274 
Eclectic medicine, 22, 51, 77, 175 
Eddy, Clarence, 55, 61 
Edwards, Mara Franc (Frankie), 

n, 13 

Eighth Illinois Regiment, 176 
Eisendrath, Dr. Daniel N., 175 
Elliott, Dr. Arthur, 261 
Emancipation, 15, 26, 66, 108 
Emergency Hospital, Chicago, 101 
Episcopal Church, 56 
Equal Rights League, 6, 135, 268 
Evans, Anna (Mrs. Daniel Murray), 

i5 151 

Ezekiel, Jacob, 148 
Ezekiel, Moses J., 148-150, 152, 154, 


FAULKNER, CHARLES J., Senator from 
West Virginia, 137, 139-140, 142- 


Fellowes, Dr. Marie, 217 
Fellows, Dr. C. Gurnee, 185 
Fenger, Dr. Christian, 35, 48, 76, 79- 

82, lor, 214 
Field, Marshall, 174 

Fifer, Joseph W., governor of Illi- 
nois, 62, 65 

Fisher, Cora, 147 

Fisher, Sally, 147 

Fisk University, 194 

Fitz, Dr. Reginald Heber, 80-8 1 

Fleetwood, Sarah, 187 

Flexner, Dr. Abraham, 195 

Forbes, George, 231 

Fortune, T. Thomas, 231, 240 

Francis, Dr. G. Hamilton, 200, 272 

Francis, Dr. John R., 109, 116, 127, 

Freedmen's Bureau, 7, 55, 105 

Freedmen's Hospital, 97-99, 101- 
106, 122-123, 126, 131, 151, 153, 
179-180, 192-193, 204, 232-236, 
240-241, 249, 258, 271; history of, 
105-106; reforms instigated by 
DHW, 108-117, 128-130; investi- 
gated by Congressional commit- 
tee, 132-144, 159-172. See also 
Board of Incorporators and Board 
of Visitors 

Free Negro Conventions, 5, 56, 71 

Fuller, Dr. William, 88, 95, 259-260, 

Furniss, Dr. Henry (Harry), 135, 

Garfield, James A., President, 99 
Garfield, James Randolph, Secretary 

of the Interior, 234-237, 240-244 
Garfield Hospital, 118 
Garnett, Isabella, 83-84, 272 
Garrison, William Lloyd, 5 
Gazette, Janesville, 16, 20, 186 
General Theological Seminary, 56 
George, Judge Albert, 188 
Gethner, Dr. Max, 252-253, 255, 272 
Gibson, Kate, 112 
Gilbert, Dr. N* C., 261, 271 
Giles, Dr. Roscoe, 262, 272 
"God Be With You 'Til We Meet 

Again" (Jeremiah E. Rankin), 104 
Goldspohn, Dr. Albert, 1183 
Goodwin's Froliques, 30 

Gordon, James G., 62, 66, 75, 174, 


Graceland Cemetery, 274 
Graham, Dr. Neil F., 127 
Grand Opera House, 30 
Gray's Anatomy, 17 
Green, Mollie, 73 
Greene, Dr. F. C., 73 
Greenhill, Smith Price estate, 5 
Gresham, Judge Walter Q., 74, 97- 

98, 102, 131, 133, 142-143 
Guardian, Boston, 231 
Guernsey, Minerva, 10, 20 
Guernsey, Orrin, 8, 10, 16, 199 
Gunsaulus, Rev. F. W., 69-70, 74, 

Gynecological Society of Chicago, 

80, 183-184 

HADLEY, C. O., 254 

Haire, Rev. John, 9-11, 20, 29 

Haire, Mrs., 20 

Haire's Academy. See Janesville 

Classical Academy 
Hale, Dr. J. H., 201, 272 
Hall, Dr. Andy, 54 
Hall, Mrs. Benjamin, 16 
Hall, Dr. George Cleveland, 75, 77, 

88, 101, 175-177, 189-190, 218-219, 

236-243, 245-258, 260-265, 267, 

269, 274 
Hall, Theodocia (Brewer) (Mrs. 

George Cleveland Hall), 189, 228, 

236-237, 245, 248, 250-252, 254 
Halsted forceps, 163 
Halsted gloves, 121 
Hamilton Club, 62, 74, 84 
Hampton's Nursing, 167 
Hancock, R. M., 70 
Hanna, Mark, 133, 145 
Harrison, Richard B. (Dick), 188, 


Harvard University, 231 
Harvey Medical College, 76, 175 
Haskett, Dr. W. A., 62 
Hatfield, Dr. Marcus J., 37, 40, 51 
Hay, Dr. Walter, 77 
Hayes, Rutherford B., President, 9 

INDEX 373 

Heart operation, world's first suc- 
cessful, performed by DHW, 85- 


Hepburn, Dr. J. Charles, 257 
Hippocratic Oath, 49 
Hirsch, Rabbi Emil, 73, 223 
Hohenlohe, Cardinal Gustavo von, 


Holland, Milton M., 155 
Hollidaysburg, Pa., home of DHW's 
parents and of DHW, 4-7; Rev- 
erdy Ransom has church in, 224; 
DHW visits, 268 
Hollister, Dr. John H., 40 
Holman, Dr. John Hamilton, 200, 


Home Forums, u 
Homeopathic medicine, 22 
Hood, Dr. Thomas B., dean, How- 
ard University Medical School, 
104, 127 

Howard University, 98-100, 103- 
106, 109, in, 114, 117, 128-129, 
138-139, 141-143, 149, 151-152, 160, 
195, 200, 233, 244, 264, 272 
Hubbard, George W., dean, Me- 
harry Medical College, 194-196, 


Hull House, 250 
Hullihan, Maggie, 10-11 
Hullihan, Mr., 10-11 
Humbert, King of Italy, 150 
Hunter, Dr. J. E., 241, 246 
Hyde, Dr. J. Nevins, 179 

IDLEWILD, life of DHW in, 259, 269- 
270, 273 

Illinois Charitable Eye and Ear In- 
firmary, 41 

Illinois Medical Journal, 213 

Illinois State Board of Health, 62- 

"I Love You Truly" (Carrie Jacobs 
Bond), 1 86 

Incorporators, Board of. See Board 
of Incorporators 

Index Catalogue, 93 

Index Medicus, 93-94 


Daniel Hale Williams 

Ingersoll, Colonel Robert, n, 15, 
152, 271, 274 

Institutional Church and Social Set- 
dement, 223-224 

Interior Department, 233, 236, 243. 
See also Secretary of the Inte- 

International Medical Congress, 59- 

Inter-Ocean, Chicago, 92, 94 

Irving, Sir Henry, 152 

Isham, Dr. Ralph N., 74, 76-77, 99 

JACKSON, DR., 272 

Jackson, Alice (Smith) , 45, 75 

Jacobs, Carrie. See Bond, Carrie (Ja- 

Jaggard, Dr. W. W., 76, 120, 175 

Janesville, Wis., life of DHW in, 
3-21; DHW visits, 1 86 

Janesville Classical Academy, 3, o- 
15, 20, 29 

Jefferson High School, attended by 
DHW, 7 

Jenifer, Rev. John T., 69 

Jenner, Edward, 37 

Jewell, Dr. James S., 33, 40 

Johns Hopkins University Hospital, 
1 20, 136, 139, 182 

Johnson, Alice D., meets DHW, 
136-137; marriage to DHW, 146, 
155; described, 147; parentage 
and birth, 148; studies at Howard 
University, 149-150; goes to Eu- 
rope, 149; teaches at Mott School, 
151; her suitors, 151-152; engage- 
ment to Garnett Baltimore, 152; 
friendship with Henry Furniss, 
153; courted by DHW, 153; death 
of her mother, 154. See also Wil- 
liams, Alice (Johnson) 

Johnson, Dr. Frank S., 74 

Johnson, Isabella, mother of Alice 
D. Johnson, 148-154, 228-229 

Johnson, Dr. James Tabor, 123, 

Johnson, J. M., 75 

Johnstone, Margaret E., 261 

Jones, Rev. Jenkin Lloyd, 12, 15, 20, 

62, 69, 71, 73, 174, 271 
Jones, John, 25-26, 62, 69 
Jones, Mrs. John, 21-22, 25-27, 29- 

32, 34, 40, 45, 47, 51-52, 69, 254 
Jones, John G. ("Indignation"), 71- 


Jones, Theodore Wellington, 69-70, 


Kelly, Dr. Howard, 120, 122, 180, 


Kendall, Dr., 272 
Kennedy, David, 268 
Kenney, Dr. John A., 217-218, 238, 

241, 245, 266, 272 
Kimber's Anatomy and Physiology, 


Knight, Rev. R. E., 69 
Knox College, 62 
Kohlsaat, Herman H., 73-74, 84, 92, 



Lake County Star, Baldwin, Mich., 

Lamb, Dr. D. S., 178, 181 

Langston, Nettie. See Napier, Net- 
tie (Langston) 

Lattimore family, 56 

LeBeau, Julia, 52 

LeBeau, Mrs., mother of Julia Le- 
Beau, 52 

LeDroit Park, 108 

Lee, Lavinia (Jones), 26 

Lee, Robert E., 149 

Lee, Theodora (Thedy), 26, 40, 52, 

Lewis, Florence. See Bentley, Flor- 
ence (Lewis) 

Lewis, Dr. Lawrence A., 205 

Lewis, Mr., Superintendent of Char- 
ities, District of Columbia, 168 

Liberia, 26 

Library of Congress, 238 

Lincoln, Abraham, President, 62 

Lincoln Hospital, 246 

INDEX 375 

Lind University, 22 

Lister, Lord Joseph, 42, 44 

Listerism, 60 

Liszt, Franz, 149 

Littleton's Tenures, 16-17 

Lord, Ida (Williams), wife of Jim 

Lord, 12-14, 20, 272 
Lord, Jim, 14 
Lord, Dr. Simeon, 14 
Lucas, Sam, 225 
Lundy, Benjamin, 5 
Lynch, John R., 138, 142-144, 160 
Lyon, Jeannette. See McMurdy, 

Jeannette (Lyon) 
Lyons, Judson W., 226 

MCARTHUR, DR. L. L., 80 
McCard, Dr. Harry, 241 
McDowell, Dr. Ephraim, 42, 180 
McDowell, Dr. J. W., 93, 226, 261, 


McGowan, Mrs. David, 74 
McKinley, William, President, 143 
McKissick, Dr. Andrew, 217, 272 
McMillan, Dr. J. A., 201, 272 
McMillan, James, Senator from 

Michigan, 134, 137-138, 144-145, 

159, 161, 171 
McMurdy, Jeannette (Lyon), 253, 


McMurdy, Judge Robert, 257 
McVicker's Theater, 30 
Madden, James, 69, 73, 157, 173, 232, 

256, 258 

Mallet, John, 187 
Maxim's Hall, 152 
Marshall, Colonel John R., 69 
Martin, Dr. Franklin, 53, 59, 80, 

Martin, Thomas S., Senator from 

Virginia, 137-138, 144 
Mason, Rev. C. M. C, 6, 135 
Mason, Edith, 135, 155 
Mathews family, 56 
Matthews, Professor Shailer, 223 
Mayo, Dr. Charles, 54 
Mayo, Dr. Will, 80-8 1, 183 
Mayo needle, 211 

Medical Record of New York, 93- 

Medical sects, Botanic, 22; Eclectic, 

22, 51, 77, 175; Homeopathic, 22; 

Thompsonian, 22 
Medical Society of the District of 

Columbia, 126-127, 179 
Medico-Chirurgical Society of the 

District of Columbia, 127 
Meharry Medical College, 194-196, 

200-201, 217, 254-255, 272 
Menzies, Dr. Hugh, 186 
Mercy Hospital, Chicago, 24-25, 37, 

41-42, 45-46, 48, 70 
Mercy Hospital, Philadelphia, 272 
Meriwether, Mary (Robinson), 152, 


Meriwether, Sarah, 155 
Methodist Episcopal Church, 12 
Meyer Opera House, Janesville, 8 
Meyer's Kowversations-Lexikon, 181 
Michaelis, Dr., surgeon, 120 
Middleton, Fannie, 155 
Millionaire Row, Chicago, 25, 47 
Mills, Dr. James S., 20, 23, 25, 34, 48, 

59, 1 86, 267 
Milton College, 20 
Mingo, Louise, 229 
Minnesota State Medical Society, 81 
Minton, Dr. Henry M., 241, 272 
Modjeska, Helena, 8 
Mollin, Dr. C. W. Mansell, 87 
Montezuma, Dr. Carlos, 223 
Morgan, Dr. William E., 50, 67, 88 
Morris, Edward H., 72, 178 
Moton, Major, 250 
Mott School, 147, 151-153, 226 
Murphy, Dr. John B., 60, 81, 126, 

185, 222, 253 

Murray, Daniel, 122, 146 
Murray, Daniel, Jr., 122 


banker, 226, 255 
Napier, Nettie (Langston), wife of 

James Carroll Napier, 151, 226 
National Archives, 98 
National Association for the Ad- 

37 6 

Daniel Hale Williams 

vancement of Colored People, 272- 

National Association of Colored 

Graduate Nurses, 245 
National Association of Trained 

Nurses, 250 

National Dispensatory, The, 17 
National Medical Association, 127- 

128, 191-192, 196, 201, 217, 245- 

H7. 2 5* 

National Soldiers' Home, 108 

NefT, Dr. James F., 257 

Negro hospitals and medical schools, 

Negro National Hospital Associa- 
tion, 274 

New York Medical Record. See 
Medical Record of New York 

Niagara Movement, 232, 235-236, 273 

Ninth Battalion, 176 

North Carolina Medical Journal, 206 

Northway, Stephen, Congressman 
from Ohio, 137-139 

Northwestern Pathological Labora- 
tory, 179 

Northwestern University, 22, 49, 79, 
157, 219, 221, 257; Medical School, 
261, 271 

OAKMERE, home of DHW, 270, 273 

Oberlin College, 152 

Obstetrics, 119 

Ochsner, Dr. Albert J., 182-183 

Odontographic Society, 76 

Olcott family, 56 

Old Bethel. See Bethel African 

Methodist Episcopal Church 
"Old Boston," former slave, 114 
Old Folks Home, 178 
Oregon Indian Medicine Co., 63-64 
Osborne, Dr., surgeon, 121 


Palmer, Elizabeth. See Taylor, Eliza- 
beth (Palmer) 

Palmer, Dr. Henry, 9, 16-22, 24, 38, 
44, 46, 59, 128 

Palmer, Mrs. Potter, 225 

Palmer, Dr. Will, 17 
Parke, Alice, 151-152 
Parke, Caroline (Caddie), 136-137, 

147, 149, 151-155* 16*. 187, 229 
Parker, James, 235-236, 244 
Parrish, Mabel (Williams) , cousin of 

DHW, 83, 88, 262 
Parrozzani, Dr., surgeon, 95 
Patti, Adelina, 61 
Paul family, 56 
Pember, Dr. Frank, 20, 23, 25, 34, 

45-46, 48, 1 86 

Pennsylvania State Canal, 6 
Pensions, Commissioner of, 108 
Perry, Dr. J. Edward, 201-204, 272 
Peterson, Dr. Reuben, 183 
Petit, Sarah Raynie. See Wheeler, 

Sarah Raynie (Petit) 
Phalen, Dr. James M., Colonel, U.S. 

Army, Ret., 185, 272 
Philadelphia Medical Journal, 179 
Phillis Wheatley Club, Chicago, 188; 

Nashville, 197 
Physicians of the Poor, 107 
Pilot, The, Philadelphia, 39 
Pinchback, Bismarck, 57 
Pinchback, Nina, 57 
Pinchback, P. B. S., lieutenant gov- 
ernor of Louisiana, 57 
Pitney, Mahlon, Congressman from 

New Jersey, 137 
Plaza Assembly Rooms, 245 
Plummer, Mrs. J. C., 70 
Plummer, Dr. Samuel C., 261 
Plymouth Congregational Church, 

40, 48, 69 

Post, Washington, D.C., 160 
Post Graduate Medical School, 99- 

100, 182 

Presbyterian Church, Third, 73 
Presbyterian Hospital, Chicago, m 
Price family, 5-6, 8, 21, 25-26, 32, 38, 

131-132, 276-277 
Price, Rev. Henry, grandfather of 

DHW, 5, 12, 15, 21, 61, 276-277 
Price, Mary, wife of DHWs uncle, 

Henry H. Price, 21 
Price, Nina, 175 



Price, Sarah Ann. See Williams, 
Sarah Ann (Price) 

Price, Smith, great-grandfather of 
DHW, 5 

Protestant Orphan Asylum, 51 

Provident Hospital, Chicago, world's 
first interracial hospital, 80, 82-85, 
94, 9<$~97 I00 ' !<>9i iii-iii, 135. 
142, 157, 173, 177, 193, 197, 199, 209, 
211, 213, 219, 223, 232-233, 236, 238, 

243, 251-252, 255-259, 262, 264, 269, 
274-275; first building, reasons for 
establishment, 66-68; campaign, 
69-73; contributors, 73, 75; incor- 
poration, 73; opening, 75; staff, 76- 
77; ladies' auxiliaries, 73, 78; organi- 
zation, 74; first annual report, 78; 
benefit charity ball, 79; second 
building, contributors, 174-175; 
third building, 272, 274 

Provident Hospital Association, 73- 
74, 256 

Pullman, Florence, 73, 84 

Purvis, Dr. Charles B., 98-100, 103- 
107, in, 114, 117, 126-127, 132-133* 
138, 140, 142-144, 160, 162, 1 68, 205, 

244, 258 
Purvis, Robert, 98 

QUINE, DR. WILLIAM E., 34, 40, 65 


Rainey, Mrs. Richard, 215, 273 

Rankin, Rev. Jeremiah Eames, presi- 
dent, Howard University, 104, 117, 
129, 138, 141-142, 144, 155 

Ransom, Rev. Reverdy, 223-225, 271 

Rauch, Dr. John R., 62-63 

Rea, Dr. Robert Laughlin, 34-35, 41, 

Reed, Dr. W, A. (Nashville), 200- 
201, 272 

Reed, Dr. Walter A. (Washington, 
D.C.), 164 

Rehn, Dr., surgeon, 93, 95 

Remenyi, Edward, 152-153 

Reyburn, Dr, Robert, 123, 126-127 

Reynolds, Emma, 66-68, 75, 77 

Reynolds, Rev. Louis H., 66, 68-69 
Ricketts, Dr. Benjamin, 94 
Ridgley, Zellie, 82 
Roberts, Dr. Carl Glennis, 261-262, 

269, 272 

Roberts, Dr. John B., 86-87 
Robinson, Dr. F. Byron, 79, 81, 99 
Rockford, Illinois, DHW in, as a 

child, 6 

Rockford College, 60 
Roger Williams University, 194 
Roman, Dr. C. V., 241 
Roosevelt, Theodore, President, 193, 

226-227, 231, 250 
Roosevelt Hospital, 139 
Ross, J. W., 172 
Rough Riders, 193 
Royal College of Surgeons, 87 
Rush Dispensary, 76 
Rush Medical College, 22-23, 25, 33 
Russo-Turkish War, 19 


St. Anne's Churchyard, Annapolis, 

St. Anselm's Roman Catholic 

Church, 274 

St. Louis Municipal Hospital, 201 
St. Luke's Hospital, Chicago, 25, 41, 

70, 185, 218, 257, 260-261 
St. Mark's Methodist Episcopal 

Church, 245 

St. Philip's Church, 56, 136 
St. Stephen's African Methodist 

Episcopal Church, 66 
St. Thomas's African Episcopal 

Church, 52 
San Juan Hill, 193 
Sauerbrach, Ferdinand, 95 
Schmidt, Dr. Louis, 261 
Schmidt, Dr. Otto, 80, 187 
Schroeder, Dr. William E., 185 
Schultz, Dr. Annie Beatrice, 263 
Scott, Emmett J., 234-237, 239-240, 

248-249, 265-268 
Scottish Rite Masons, 146 
Secretary of the Interior, 99, 101, 

io8~no, 115, 129, 132, 139, 141, 143, 


Dmiel Hale Williams 

Secretary of the Interior (continued) 
160-161, 235, 240, 242-244, 249-250. 
See also Bliss, Cornelius; Garfield, 
James Randolph; Smith, Hoke 

Secretary of War, 267 

Senn, Dr. Nicholas, 59, 87, 211, 

Settles, Julia, third wife of Charles 

Henry Anderson. See Anderson, 

Julia (Settles) 
Shadd, Dr. Furman L., 104-105, 109, 

117, 127 

Shawnee Indians, 5 
Sigma Pi Phi, DHW resigns from, 


Sleet, Jessie, 83, 272 
Smiley, Charles H., 75, 135, 156, 256 
Smiley, Mrs. Charles H., 135, 157 
Smith, Alice. See Jackson, Alice 

Smith, Christine (Shoecraft), 227, 

Smith, Hoke, 102, 109, no, 115-116, 

129-130, 132, 141. See also Secre- 
tary of the Interior 
Smith, Dr. Reginald, 216, 262 
Smith, Dr. T. C., 125-126 
Snead, Dr. W. J., 200 
Society of Clinical Surgery, 183 
Sons of the Covenant, 149 
South Side Dispensary, 24, 53, 76 
South Side Medico-Social Society, 


Spanish- American War, 156, 177, 207 
Spleen operation, performed by 

DHW, 210-212 
Stanton, Elizabeth (Cady), 11 
Stanton School, of the Freedmen's 

Bureau, attended by DHW in An- 
napolis, 7, 55 
Star, Washington, D.C., 39, 102, 159, 


Starkey, Dr. Horace, 76 
Stewart, Annie, 255 
Stewart, Dr. Ferdinand A., 194, 196, 

200, 241, 254-255, 272 

Stewart, Ferdinand A,, Jr., 255 
Stewart, Jerry, 256 

Sunday Forum, DHW attends, 224- 

Surgery of the Thorax and its Vis- 
cera (Benjamin Merrill Ricketts), 


Surgical Association of the Chicago 
& Northwestern Railway, 264 

Surgical operations performed by 
DHW, heart, 85-95; Caesareans, 
118-122, 124-125, 126, 184; tumor 
on back of German farmer, 122, 
178-179; tumors in women, 170- 
183; thorax, 207-213; spleen, 210- 
212; crushed extremities, 214 


Tait, Lawson, 79 

Tancil, Dr. Arthur W., 127 

Tanner, John Riley, governor of 
Illinois, 177 

Taylor, Elizabeth (Palmer), daugh- 
ter of Dr. Henry Palmer, 17 

Taylor, Robert L., 185 

Tennyson, Alfred, 271 

Terrell, Mary (Church), 223 

Terry, Ellen, 152 

Thomas, Rev. J. F., 69 

Thompsonian sect in medicine, 22 

Thorax operations performed by 
DHW, 85-95, 207-213 

Tibbs, Mary Lizzie. See Williams, 
Mary Lizzie (Tibbs) 

Tiffany, Dr., surgeon, 211 

"To Dan" (Paul Laurence Dunbar), 

Topp, Sadie (Williams), 56 

Topp family, 56 

Trotter, Monroe, 231 

Tumor operations performed by 
DHW, on German farmer, 122, 
178-179; on women, 179-183 

Turner, Dr. Herbert, 262 

Twkegee and Its People (Booker T. 
Washington), 236 

Tuskegee Normal and Industrial In- 
stitute, 146, 191-192, 218, 231-240, 
248-251, 256, 265, 267 

Tuskegee Student, The> 218, 237-239 

Tyler, Elizabeth, 112-114, 272 
Tyler, John, President, 148 

Unitarian Church, 12, 15. See All 

Souls Unitarian Church 
United Brotherhood and Fraternal 

Insurance Company, 178 


Van Hook, Dr. Weller, 185 

Van Kirk, Dr. Frank W., 186 

Van Kirk, W. T., 8 

Van Vranken family, 56 

Vesalius, Andreas, 1 28 

Victor Emmanuel, King of Italy, 150 

Virginia Military Institute, 227 

Voice, The, Atlanta, 231-232 


War Department, 268 

Ward, Dr, J. H., 205 

Warfield, Dr. William A., 136, 153, 

160, 162-164, *66, *^9, 172, 204-205, 

219-220, 222, 233, 244, 250, 258, 


Warren, Mrs. Lewis, 157 
Washington, Booker T., 146, 191- 

194, 223, 231-246, 248-251, 258, 

Washington, Mrs. Booker T., 245, 


Watts, Dr. Samuel R., 127 
Webster, George H., 84, 174, 257, 

Wells, Ida B. See Barnett, Ida B. 

Wesley, Dr. Allen A., 7(^-77, 98, 177, 

256, 258 

Wesley Hospital, 70 
West, Dr. Charles I., 145, 204, 235, 

241-242, 272 

Wheatland, Dr. Marcus F., 241 
Wheeler, Lloyd, 69-70, 72, 173-174, 

191, 232, 256 
Wheeler, Sarah Raynie (Petit) , wife 

of Lloyd Wheeler, 26, 69, 74 
Whltcomb, Josh, 30 

INDEX 379 

White, Clarence Cameron, 153, 271 

White, Dr. James R., 177, 272 

White, Robert, 265 

Wilberforce University, 264 

Wilder, Dr. J. R., 123, 127 

Willard, Frances, 84 

Williams, Alice, sister of DHW, 21, 
82, 103, 134, 225-226, 276-277 

Williams, Alice (Johnson), wife of 
DHW, 172, 178, 185-188, 214, 225, 
250, 269, 274; meets DHW, 136- 
137; marries DHW, 146, 155; 
described, 157, 187, 227; wel- 
comed in Chicago, 157-158; loss of 
baby, 187; busy life, 188; work for 
Institutional Church and Social 
Settlement, 223; objects to DHW's 
giving free rent to his sisters, 226; 
unfortunate effect on DHW, 226; 
social life, 226-227; personality, 
228; ideas on religion, 229; asks 
Mary Meriwether's advice, 230; 
last illness and death, 271. See also 
Johnson, Alice D. 

Williams, Annie, sister of DHW, 6, 

Williams, Dr. A. Wilberforce, 177, 
217, 228, 262-263, 272 

Williams, Burt, 225 

Williams, Daniel, grandfather of 
DHW, 5, 12-13, 15. 2 7 J z? 6 - 2 ?? 

Williams, Daniel, Jr., father of 
DHW, 4-7, 13, 102, 131, 271, 276- 
277; work for Equal Rights 
League, 6, 135, 268; at Syracuse 
Convention of Free Negroes, 71 

Williams, Dr. Daniel Hale, de- 
scribed, 3-4, 13, 17, 48, 53-56, 104, 
189-190, 217; life in Janesville, 
Wis., 3-22; birth and ancestry, 4- 
5; life in Hollidaysburg, Pa., 4-7; 
apprenticed to a shoemaker, Balti- 
more, 6; death of father, 6-7; at- 
tends Hollidaysburg grade school, 
7; attends Jefferson High School 
in Janesville, 7; attends Stanton 
School in Annapolis, 7, 55; works 
as a barber, 7, 9, 20; sings tenor, 

3 8 

Daniel Hale Williams 

Williams, Dr. Daniel Hale (contin- 

plays guitar and bass viol, 7-8, 54; 
attends Janesville Classical Acad- 
emy, 9-15; influenced by Ingersoll, 
11, 15; becomes a Unitarian, 12; in- 
fluenced by Jenkin Lloyd Jones, 
12; studies law, 16-17 

Becomes an apprentice to Dr. 
Henry Palmer, 17-20; strings up 
telephone wires, 21; attends Chi- 
cago Medical College, 22-49; ear ty 
medical practice in Chicago, 50- 
54; serves at Protestant Orphan 
Asylum, 51; appointed to staff of 
Chicago Medical College, 53; ap- 
pointed to staff of South Side Dis- 
pensary, 53; appointed to staff 
of City Railway Company, 54; 
friendship with Hutchins Bishop, 
56; ordered off dance floor at Sara- 
toga Springs, 57; falls in love with 
Kittle May Blake, 57-58; buys real 
estate, 59, 61; appointed to Illinois 
State Board of Health, 62-65 

Founds Provident, first interra- 
cial hospital, and starts training 
nurses and internes, 66-79; interest 
in surgery begins, 79; studies bac- 
teriology, 79; writes first medical 
paper, 80; performs world's first 
successful heart operation, 85-95; 
high opinion of DHW held by 
his white medical contemporaries, 
90-100, 184, 260-261; suffers in- 
fected leg, 101-103; appointed sur- 
geon-in-chief of Freedmen's Hos- 
pital, 104; his reforms at Freed- 
men's Hospital, 108-117, 128-130; 
famous operations at Freedmen's, 
118-122 (Caesarean on dwarf), 122 
(tumor on German farmer; wrist 
of Daniel Murray, Jr.), 124-125 
(Caesarean complicated by 18- 
pound tumor); his uncanny diag- 
nostic powers, 125; his operations 
discussed by Washinpon doctors, 
126; helps found Medico-Chirurgi- 

cal Society, 127; helps found Na- 
tional Medical Association, 128; 
Sunday clinics, 128-129 

Wins out in investigation of 
Freedmen's by Congressional com- 
mittee, 132-144; plays tennis, 135; 
loves bicycling, 136; goes to Eu- 
rope, 144, 154; resignation from 
Freedmen's Hospital, 145; courts 
Alice Johnson, 153; operates on 
her mother, 154; marriage, 146, 
154; welcome home to Chicago, 
156-157; accused and exonerated 
concerning his administration of 
Freedmen's, 159-172; betrayed by 
Warfield, 162-172; resumes medi- 
cal writing, 178 (for complete list 
of published articles, see p. 366); 
opinion on tumors in colored 
women, 180-183; appears before 
various Chicago medical societies, 
178-184; loss of baby, 187 

Tries to interest Booker T. 
Washington in a medical center 
in the South, 192-193; agrees to 
operate surgical clinic at Meharry 
Medical College, 195; advice on 
how to set up a new hospital, 197- 
200; operates in homes and hospi- 
tals from Lakes to Gulf, 202-204; 
bucks color line in Dallas, St. 
Louis, Indianapolis, 205; daring 
operations, 207-213 (on the tho- 
rax), 210-212 (on the spleen), 214 
(on crushed extremities); as fam- 
ily doctor, 214-216; low fees, 216; 
student parties, 217; encourages 
John A. Kenney, 218; takes Ulysses 
Grant Dailey as apprentice, 219; 
friendship for Reverdy Ransom, 
224; "hate fence,'* 227; affair with 
Frenchwoman, 229-230; refuses to 
join Niagara Movement, 232; deal- 
ings with Chicago press, 234, 240; 
urges Booker T. Washington to 
save Freedmen's Hospital, 234; 
operates on Emmett Scott, 237; 
calls on Secretary Garfield, 240; 

INDEX 381 

recommends outstanding Negro 
doctors to lecture at Freedmen's, 
241; tells Booker T. Washington 
his experience with George C. 
Hall, 242-243; reads paper on 
"Crushing Injuries of the Extrem- 
ities" at National Medical Asso- 
ciation, 246; is defeated for presi- 
dency of National Medical Asso- 
ciation, 247; Booker T. Washing- 
ton drops him to favor Hall, 250; 
celebration of twenty-fifth anni- 
versary of his medical work, 251; 
Is attacked by Dr. and Mrs. Hall, 
252; resigns from Sigma Pi Phi, 
254; appointed to staff of St. 
Luke's Hospital, 257; resigns from 
Provident Hospital, 258 

Life in Idlewild, 259, 269; char- 
ter member and Fellow of Ameri- 
can College of Surgeons, 260; suf- 
fers stroke, 260; refuses to defend 
himself against Hall, 263; parties, 
gifts and honorary degrees from 
Howard and Wilberforce univer- 
sities, 264; delivers speeches, 264; 
at Camp Funston, 267-268; at Ben- 
ton harbor, 269; makes his will, 
272-273; death and burial, 273-274; 
Catholic baptism, 274; his role at 
Provident forgotten, 274; the rec- 
ord made straight, 275. For resi- 
dential addresses of DHW in Chi- 
cago, see 25, 51, 157, 214, 227. For 
office addresses of DHW in Chi- 
cago, see 50, 220. For surgical 
operations performed by DHW, 
see the following: heart, 85-95; 
Caesareans, 118-122, 124-125, 126, 
184; tumor on back of German 
farmer, 122, 178-179; tumors in 
women, 179-183; thorax, 207-213; 
spleen, 210-212; crushed extremi- 
ties, 214. 

Williams, Fannie (Barrier), wife of 
S. Laing Williams, 71, 73, 83, 233 

Williams, Florence, sister of DHW, 

21, 82, 103, 134, 225-226, 276-277 
Williams, Hugo, cousin of DHW, 

Williams, Ida, sister of DHW, 11, 

Williams, Ida, wife of Jim Lord. 

See Lord, Ida (Williams) 
Williams, John P., Janesville basso, 

13, 20 
Williams, Mabel, cousin of DHW. 

See Parrish, Mabel (Williams) 
Williams, Mary Lizzie (Tibbs), wife 

of Dr. A. Wilberforce Williams, 

Williams, Peter, uncle of DHW, 

135, 276-277 
Williams, Price, brother of DHW, 

6, 15* 38-39i i3* 2I 4> a? 6 " 2 ?? 

Williams, Sally, sister of DHW, 6-7, 
154, 276-277 

Williams, Samuel, cousin of DHWs 
father, 26 

Williams, Sarah Ann (Price), moth- 
er of DHW, 4-6, 21, 30-32, 38, 82, 
103, 134, 263; marriage, 5; de- 
scribed, 5, 13; favors Price, 15; 
death, 225; converted to Catholi- 
cism, 274 

Williams, S. Laing, 71, 74, 178, 233 

Williams family, 4-6, 13, 25-26, 271, 

Wilson, Judge Jerry, 166-167, 171, 

Woodson, Howard, cousin of 
DHW, 262-263 

Woodward, Dr. H. B., 185 

World's Fair, 82, 135, 168 

Wormley, Dr. James A., 145 

Wright, Edward H., 178, 225, 269- 


Young Men's Association, 9 

Young Men's Hebrew Association, 


Selected Reviews of 

**. . . strikingly readable ... an astonishing 
man." Chicago Tribune 

". . . absorbing book." 

New York Herald-Tribune Book Review 

". . . compelling biography . . /' 

Marquis James, Pulitzer "Prize winner 

'*. . . stirring and poignant . . . Thoroughly 
documented . . . written with insight, sym- 
pathy and a strict regard for truth/* 

Hartford Times 

". . . scholarly and readable biography/' 

Little Rock Gazette 

"No collection of American biography com- 
plete without it." New York Public Library 
"A List of Significant Books" 

". . . impartial and entertaining style . . ." 

Norfolk Virginian-Pilot 

". . . as dramatic and swift paced as fiction. . .** 

Saunders Redding 
author of "No Day of Triumph** 

**. . . rich in detail and yet this detail neve* 
interferes with the forward surge of tsM 
story . . /* Omaha World-HerM 

". . . reads like a novel . . /* The Nation 

"A substantial contribution to biography as 
well as medical history . . ." 

Cedar Rapids GazeUq 

". . . absorbingly written account of a greai 
American/' Los Angeles Herald-Expres^ 


1 34 889